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UPDATED 8/18, 10:40 a.m. ET: The U.S. has developed a plan to start offering vaccine booster shots to all Americans starting the third week of September, NBC News reports. Per health officials, the booster shots come as protection against hospitalization, death, and infections, is waning.
“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,” government health officials said in a statement Wednesday.
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As was the case when COVID-19 vaccines first started rolling out, nursing home residents, health care workers, and older people will likely be prioritized to receive the extra dose before other segments of the population. The publication also reported that the additional vaccine doses could start rolling out as soon as the middle of next month.
An official announcement from the Biden administration is expected to arrive shortly and might possibly be made this week.
According to the Associated Press, the Food and Drug Administration will likely approve a Pfizer booster shot in the coming weeks. Both the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved booster shots for certain immunocompromised individuals last week.
Israel has already started administering Pfizer booster shots to people over the age of 60. The country only gave out the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and did not offer others, like Moderna.
“There is a concern that the vaccine may start to wane in its effectiveness,” Dr. Francis Collins, who is the director of the National Institutes of Health, said on Sunday. “And delta is a nasty one for us to try to deal with. The combination of those two means we may need boosters...”
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom has called on wealthier countries to not administer additional shots as much of the world has yet to receive access to the vaccine.
“The more people remain unvaccinated against #COVID19 globally, the more opportunity the virus has to spread and evolve into potentially more dangerous variants, which increases the risk for everybody,” Adhanom wrote on social media. “This is why we need a moratorium on boosters.”
So far, only 51 percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 while 62 percent of people age 18 and older are fully vaccinated. Over 600,000 people have died due to complications from COVID-19 in the U.S. Over 4 million have died worldwide.