The U.S. government wants to begin administering a third booster COVID-19 vaccine dose on September 20 for those who have received the second injection eight months earlier.
This was announced Wednesday by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in a joint statement with the Executive’s leading medical experts.
Before starting this process, the third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the agency in charge of approving the serums, and by a scientific committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The government explained that it has made this decision after concluding that the effectiveness of the vaccines decreases over time after receiving the first doses.
“The available data make it very clear that protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection begins to decline after the initial doses of the vaccines, and in association with the predominance of the delta variant, we are beginning to see evidence of reduced protection against mild and moderate disease,” it said.
The first to receive the third booster COVID-19 vaccine shot will be the people who were first vaccinated in the United States, i.e. healthcare professionals and elderly people living in nursing homes.
The authorities also anticipated that people who have received the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine, which is a single-dose vaccine, may need to receive an additional dose.
In that regard, they detailed that J&J’s serum did not begin to be administered until March 2021 (Pfizer’s was the first to receive approval and began to be administered in December) and they are waiting to receive more data on this vaccine in the coming week to decide if an additional dose is needed.
There are currently three vaccines licensed for emergency use in the United States, those from Pfizer and Moderna, which require two doses, and J&J’s single-dose vaccine.
Pfizer’s and Moderna’s use messenger RNA technology, which is a kind of code that the vaccine delivers to cells. That code serves as an instruction manual for the vaccine’s immune system to learn to recognize the coronavirus and attack it.
Vaccines such as J&J’s use an adenovirus, which is an “inactivated” virus that sends instructions to the vaccinated person’s body to fight COVID-19.