All vaccinated Americans should go and secure their COVID-19 booster shots in order to “maximize vaccine-induced protection,” stated a set of top U.S. health officials this past Wednesday. This decision crops up in the wake of an analysis of a new set of data by U.S. health officials, who currently think protection may fall off over time, and the fall-off seems to be enough to warrant the need for boosters.
As reported by The New York Times, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) that was made public this past Wednesday seems to show that while “the vaccines remain highly effective against hospitalizations, the bulwark they provide against infection with the virus has weakened” in the past few months. Stat News, which is a medical news reporting website, stated that the U.S. health officials also seemed to point to data that showed that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were “no longer protecting as well against mild and moderate Covid-19 infections as evidence that ‘could’ signal a decline in protection against serious disease.”
While it is not quite clear just from the data why the vaccine efficacy would be falling off, the Times seems to note that the drop could be “the result of waning immunity, a drop in precautions like wearing masks, or the rise of the highly contagious Delta variant.” As reported by The Washington Post, groups of officials have pointed to a loss of efficacy over time and to the rapid spread of the new Delta variant, which seems to account for just over 98% of the sequenced U.S. COVID-19 cases.
The reporting group of health officials, which is stated to include CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky and Dr. Anthony Fauci, stated that they are currently prepared to distribute booster shots to “all Americans” starting as soon as the week of September 20th, so long as the new boosters manage to receive FDA recommendation. The boosters are planned to be given just eight months after the second dose.
The newly established guidelines do not seem to apply to the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine. The group of health officials has stated that there are currently just not enough data available to support such a stance, as the one-shot vaccine had gotten emergency use authorization much later than the mRNA shots.
“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,” stated the officials in a release. “For that reason, we conclude that a booster shot will be needed to maximize vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability.”
Other outside experts seem to remain skeptical that any booster shots are actually needed for everyone, especially because the released data shows that the vaccines still offer strong protection against severe disease.
“I do not understand the urgency of giving the general population additional doses of COVID vaccine at this time,” stated De. Celine Gounder, a professor from NYU who previously worked with Old Uncle Joe’s team. “They remain highly protective vs hospitalization & death.”
She went on to say that there are, in fact, categories of people who would need another dose of the vaccine, such as the very immunocompromised, residents of nursing homes, and anyone over the age of 80.