WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- The US FDA has given a green light for fully vaccinated Americans who are age 18 and older to receive a COVID-19 booster shot.
- The FDA granted emergency use authorization for a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
- Previously, the FDA has authorized the emergency use of booster shots to people 65 and older and to immunocompromised adults.
The Food and Drug Administration approved COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for all Americans age 18 and up on Friday, which would expand eligibility for boosters of Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines ahead of the holiday season.
The Centers for Disease Control is expected to make a final decision later Friday, and if they agree Americans could start getting boosters immediately.
Previously, the FDA had only authorized booster shots of Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines for people aged 65 or older and people who were at high risk of contracting COVID-19, either due to preexisting conditions or their job. They had also approved anyone who had received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine to get a booster of their choice to increase their waning protection against the virus.
Under the new guidelines, anyone who is six months past the date that they reached full efficacy from their vaccination — two weeks after their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna — can get a booster shot of any of the vaccines.
People can elect to get a booster of any type, regardless of which vaccine they originally received. Studies have shown that mixing vaccine types can improve the body’s immune response.
Several states and New York City had already expanded booster eligibility to anyone 18 or up, ahead of the FDA’s recommendation. Residents of Arkansas, California, Colorado and New Mexico were all able to get a booster before Friday.
The booster approval comes as the weather in most of the U.S. grows colder and the holiday season, when people will be traveling and gathering indoors, nears.
New COVID-19 cases have also been on the rise over the last two weeks. After the summer surge, when cases rose to around 170,000 a day, they had started to dip down to around 70,000 in late October. But colder states and areas with fewer vaccinated people have led to another increase, and cases are now back up to an average of 85,000 a day as of Nov. 18, according to The New York Times.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, urged people to get their booster shot.
“Always the primary thing is to get the unvaccinated vaccinated,” Fauci said in an interview on CNBC Monday night. “But for those who are eligible to be boosted, by all means, go and get boosted.”