With Coronavirus cases continuing to increase day by day due to the Delta Variant, health officials are pleading with the population to get a COVID-19 jab. And even if you’ve already been vaccinated, chances are you’ll have to visit a vaccination site again.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently announced a plan to begin offering COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to most people by Sept. 20. Individuals will become eligible for a booster shot eight months after they received their second dose for either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine. People with compromised immune systems are already being offered a third booster shot.
“The COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States continue to be remarkably effective in reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta Variant. Recognizing that many vaccines are associated with a reduction in protection over time, and acknowledging that additional vaccine doses could be needed to provide long lasting protection, we have been analyzing the scientific data closely from the United States and around the world to understand how this protection will last and how we might maximize this protection,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement.
“The available data make very clear that protection against (COVID-19) begins to decrease over time following the initial doses of vaccination, and in association with the dominance of the Delta Variant, we are starting to see evidence of reduced protection against mild and moderate disease. 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,” the statement continues. “For that reason, we conclude that a booster shot will be needed to maximize vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability.”
If the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices approve a COVID-19 booster dose, the first people eligible for the jab will be those who were the first to receive a vaccine against the virus, like healthcare providers, older Americans and residents of long-term care facilities.
Currently, experts are researching available data to understand how well the vaccines are working, including how new variants impact the effectiveness of vaccines.
Scientists in Israel recently reported that booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are highly effective against Coronavirus infection and severe COVID-19. The report involved researchers from numerous Israeli institutions that studied data from the country’s Health Ministry for 1.1 million people ages 60 or older in August. Toward the end of July, Israel became the first country to offer booster shots to people 60 or older who have been fully vaccinated with two Pfizer jabs at least five months earlier.
An update on COVID-19 vaccines for children
Classrooms are full with students again in Colorado as cases of the virus continue to add up. However, COVID-19 vaccines have yet to be approved for children under 12.
Pfizer is planning to apply to the FDA for authorization to use its vaccines in children ages five through 11 by the end of September. Moderna expects to have data ready for vaccine authorization on younger children later this year.
Dr. Bob Frenck, director of the Vaccine Research Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, told CNN it appears children can get a smaller dose of vaccine than adults and still get the same protection.
Side effects in vaccine studies on children ages five through 11 show children are experiencing the same side effects adults have experienced like a sore arm, fatigue, headaches and fevers.
Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the FDA and a member of Pfizer’s board of directors, said the company could be ready to file an application with the FDA for approval as early as October which would make vaccines available to children in early winter.
COVID-19 vaccines have shown to be safe and effective after going through rigorous testing. You can find a vaccine provider at vacciens.gov or by texting your ZIP code to 438829.