The Food and Drug Administration authorized booster shots Friday for all fully vaccinated U.S. adults.
People who got the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are eligible for a third shot six months after their last immunization while those who received Johnson & Johnson are eligible after two months.
Prior to this authorization, booster shots were reserved for at-risk communities such as the elderly, those with underlying conditions or adults who potentially have high exposure to COVID-19.
“Authorizing the use of a single booster dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 18 years of age and older helps to provide continued protection against COVID-19, including the serious consequences that can occur, such as hospitalization and death,” Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a media release.
According to surfacing data, the efficacy of vaccines seems to wane over time, requiring booster shots to remain protected.
“Streamlining the eligibility criteria and making booster doses available to all individuals 18 years of age and older will help to eliminate confusion about who may receive a booster dose and ensure booster doses are available to all who may need one,” said Dr. Woodcock.
Conversely, the World Health Organization questioned the need for booster shots. The WHO’s chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan stated that the data does not prove that boosters are needed and urged to prioritize the distribution of vaccines to poorer countries.
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has yet to make a statement concerning the FDA’s decision, states are moving forward with booster shots in anticipation of keeping case numbers down for the holiday season. Previously, California came out in support of booster shots for all adults.
Despite the authorization of the booster shots, only about 58.9% of Americans are currently fully vaccinated.
Additionally, only about 70% of healthcare workers are fully vaccinated.
The Biden administration suspended its enforcement of a vaccine mandate which requires all businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure their workers are vaccinated or regularly tested by Jan. 4, leaving the future of vaccines and boosters uncertain.
Nevertheless, the administration and White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci continue to push for Americans to get fully vaccinated and continue with boosters if eligible.