The Food and Drug Administration Wednesday authorized booster shots of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, taking a major step in distributing extra doses to tens of millions of Americans.
The agency authorized the Moderna booster shot six months after the primary series for individuals over the age of 65 and young adults with underlying health conditions or occupational exposure to COVID-19. The recommendation for the Moderna booster shot aligned with the authorization provided for Pfizer boosters a few weeks ago.
In addition, the FDA authorized the J&J booster for everyone over the age of 18 who completed the single-dose series at least two months ago.
On Wednesday, the FDA also approved “mixing and matching” a booster dose of the vaccine, meaning that those who received the first series of a different vaccine are now eligible for a booster dose of any of the approved shots.
“Today’s actions demonstrate our commitment to public health in proactively fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic,” Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement. “As the pandemic continues to impact the country, science has shown that vaccination continues to be the safest and most effective way to prevent COVID-19, including the most serious consequences of the disease, such as hospitalization and death.”
“The available data suggest waning immunity in some populations who are fully vaccinated. The availability of these authorized boosters is important for continued protection against COVID-19 disease.”
The FDA’s ruling will now move on to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for consideration by its vaccine advisory committee. The committee is scheduled to meet today to discuss the boosters.
If the committee issues a recommendation for the booster shots, it will be left up to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky to stamp final approval. If she does so, booster shots would be available for millions of eligible Americans immediately.
The push for boosters comes as case rates are declining in the U.S., averaging about 80,000 new cases per day, according to data from The New York Times.
In Santa Barbara County, the Public Health Department reported 73 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the county’s active case rate to 298 infections.
Officials reported 38 new cases in Santa Maria, nine cases in Santa Barbara, and seven cases in both the Santa Ynez Valley and Lompoc. Elsewhere, four cases were reported in the North County unincorporated areas and Guadalupe, two were reported in Orcutt, two in Goleta, two in the South Coast unincorporated areas and Carpinteria, and one case in the unincorporated Goleta Valley and Gaviota.
One case was pending a location assignment on Wednesday.
The department reported that 37 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 on Wednesday.
Thirteen of those patients were recovering in the ICU.
According to the county’s latest vaccination data, 78.1% of eligible 12-and-older residents are partially vaccinated, and 70.2% of that same population are fully vaccinated.
Of the county’s entire population, 59.4% of people are fully vaccinated.