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HHS Joint Statement Outlines Official Plan for Rollout of COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots

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In a new joint statement, the HHS officially recommends booster shots of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and outlines plan to start rollout this fall.

booster dose of vaccine

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In a joint statement published today, leaders from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officially recommended booster doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and outlined the Administration’s plan to start rollout as soon as September 20, 2021.

Previous data suggest that protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection decreases following initial vaccination and, coupled with the dominance of the Delta variant, “we are starting to see evidence of reduced protection against mild and moderate disease,” stated officials.

“Based on our latest assessment, the current protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death could diminish in the months ahead, especially among those who are at higher risk or were vaccinated during the earlier phases of the vaccination rollout. For that reason, we conclude that a booster shot will be needed to maximize vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability,” continued officials.

The HHS is prepared to offer booster shots for all Americans beginning the week of September 20, 2021 and starting 8 months after an individual’s second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna mRNA vaccine. “At that time, the individuals who were fully vaccinated earliest in the vaccination rollout, including many health care providers, nursing home residents, and other seniors, will likely be eligible for a booster,” stated officials.

Booster shots will also be distributed to residents of long-term care facilities, given the early distribution of vaccines to the facilities and the increased risk of COVID-19 infection in this population.

The timeline for booster shots is subject to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducting an independent evaluation and verification of the safety and effectiveness of a third dose of the vaccines and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) issuing booster dose recommendations based on a review of the evidence.

The HHS noted that booster shots will likely be needed for individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, as well, but could not provide a specific date at this time.

“We also want to emphasize the ongoing urgency of vaccinating the unvaccinated in the U.S. and around the world. Nearly all the cases of severe disease, hospitalization, and death continue to occur among those not yet vaccinated at all,” concluded HHS officials. “We will continue to ramp up efforts to increase vaccinations here at home and to ensure people have accurate information about vaccines from trusted sources. We will also continue to expand our efforts to increase the supply of vaccines for other countries, building further on the more than 600 million doses we have already committed to donate globally.”

The statement is attributable to Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); FDA Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock, MD; US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA; Francis Collins, MD, PhD, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH); Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID); Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levine, MD; David Kessler, MD, chief science officer for the COVID-19 Response; Marcella Nunez-Smith, MD, chair of the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force.


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