HHS Public Health Makes Statement on COVID-19 Booster Shots

HHS Public Health and a team of medical experts recommend that COVID-19 vaccine booster shots will soon be necessary.

On August 18, 2021, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Public Health and a team of medical experts produced a statement on COVID-19 booster shots, saying that the COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States are effective, but that a booster shot will be needed to maximize vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability. Starting in September 2021, the officials hope to begin administering booster shots to individuals who received their second dose eight months ago—pending an FDA evaluation and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) issuing booster dose recommendations.

The HHS Public Health and the team of medical experts said in the statement that the COVID-19 vaccines are effective in reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death—including against the Delta variant. However, as HHS Public Health and the team of medical experts study the scientific data surrounding the pandemic, they have found that protection against the SARS-CoV-2 infection decreases over time following the initial doses of vaccination. They also note that many vaccines (outside of the COVID-19 vaccine) have a reduction in protection over time, and additional vaccine doses may be needed to provide long-lasting protection.

“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,” said HHS Public Health and a team of medical experts in the statement. “For that reason, we conclude that a booster shot will be needed to maximize vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability.”

According to this statement, HHS Public Health and the team of medical experts have developed a plan to offer COVID-19 booster shots this fall, starting September 20, 2021. Individuals will receive the booster shot eight months after their second dose. This plan is dependent upon:

  • FDA conducting an independent evaluation and determination of the safety and effectiveness of a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna messenger RNA vaccines
  • CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices issuing booster dose recommendations

The statement is attributed to Rochelle Walensky, director, CDC; Dr. Janet Woodcock, acting commissioner, FDA; Vivek Murthy, US surgeon general; Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health; Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Rachel Levine, assistant secretary for Health; David Kessler, chief science officer for the COVID-19 response; and Marcella Nunez-Smith, chair of the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force.

Source: HHS.gov