Federal health officials are expected to recommend an extra dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for all Americans eight months after they get their second shot.
People over the age of twelve who are fully vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna could be asked to roll up their sleeves for the third shot.
The move comes after recent findings that the Pfizer vaccine’s ability to protect from the virus diminishes after eight months.
“Vaccine protection does gradually wane over time,” said Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health. “Israeli data, the people who got immunized in January are the ones that are now having more breakthrough cases. That’s the same thing we’re starting to see in the US data.”
The booster shot will be given in the order that people got the first-round vaccines, eight months after their second shot.
First in line will be health care workers, nursing home residents, and other older Americans, who were the first to be vaccinated last December.
“We have long anticipated that there would likely be a coronavirus booster that might be on something like an annual basis just based upon our response to other viral vaccines and experience we have with coronaviruses in general,” said Dr. Melanie Swift, an occupational physician at Mayo Clinic. “So, it doesn’t come as a big surprise.”
The push comes as cases of the highly contagious Delta variant spike across the country.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who is fully vaccinated, tested positive for COVID Tuesday. His office said he is in good health and experiencing no symptoms.
But deaths from the Delta variant now stand at approximately 500 each day, up over 130 percent since last month.
Hospital ICUs in hot zones like Alabama are filling up with younger patients.
“Losing within a week three patients under the age of 40, just very heartbreaking,” said Dr. Jenna Carpenter, pulmonary care physician at Marshall Medical South.
The University of Mississippi’s medical center recently set up a second field hospital to handle the surge.
Meanwhile, experts worry that the call for boosters could discourage people who are already hesitant to get their first COVID-19 shots.
If the Food and Drug Administration greenlights a third booster shot, the first doses could be distributed as early as September.