All vaccinated Americans, regardless of age or immunosuppression, will soon be eligible to receive COVID-19 booster shots, the Associated Press reports.
U.S. health officials announced the modified vaccination effort on Wednesday, which calls for a third dose of the Covid vaccine eight months after someone’s second shot of Pfizer of Moderna. Individuals who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will also likely require booster shots, though health officials are waiting to review more data before making a decision.
“Our plan is to protect the American people, to stay ahead of this virus,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a press conference, during which heqalth officials also said it was “very clear” that vaccines’ efficacy wanes over time.
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“We are concerned that this pattern of decline we’re seeing will continue in the months ahead, which could lead to reduced protection against severe disease, hospitalization and death,” U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy explained.
While many medical professions are lauding the plan — NYU Langone’s Dr. Mark Mulligan called the new plan “proactive” — others are more critical, considering how few other countries have not yet to receive even their first shots — let alone a booster.
“We’re planning to hand out extra life jackets to people who already have life jackets, while we’re leaving other people to drown without a single life jacket,” Dr. Michael Ryan, the WHO’s emergencies chief, said. Similarly, WHO’s Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said that “we believe clearly that the data does not indicate that boosters are needed,” and that allowing billions of people around the world unvaccinated could ultimately lead to even more variants, prompting “even more dire situations.”
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But U.S. surgeon general Murthy doesn’t see it as “us” versus “them.”
“We clearly see our responsibility to both, and we’ve got to do everything we can to protect people here at home while recognizing that tamping down the epidemic across the world is going to be key,” he said.
AP reports that booster shots could begin as soon as September 20.