COVID-19 booster shots to be offered starting in September, federal health officials announce

Federal health officials on Wednesday called for the distribution of COVID-19 booster shots starting this fall.

The boosters should prevent the decline of vaccine efficacy against “mild and moderate disease” overtime, according to an announcement released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Officials plan to distribute booster shots to individuals eight months after their second dose.

“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 from the top officials at the CDC, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies said. 

Officials say they plan to start offering booster shots of Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines the week of Sept. 20, following independent evaluations conducted by the FDA and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Health care providers, nursing home residents and other seniors will likely be among the first eligible for a booster.

The decision follows authorization from the FDA last week for distribution of booster shots to individuals with weakened immune systems. 

The statement noted that booster shot distribution will initially prioritize residents of long-term care facilities, “given the distribution of vaccines to this population early in the vaccine rollout and the continued increased risk that COVID-19 poses to them.”

Although officials anticipate booster shots will be needed for recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, they’re waiting to collect more data in the coming weeks before releasing a plan.

“Our top priority remains staying ahead of the virus and protecting the American people from COVID-19 with safe, effective, and long-lasting vaccines, especially in the context of a constantly changing virus and epidemiologic landscape,” the statement read. “We will continue to follow the science on a daily basis, and we are prepared to modify this plan should new data emerge that requires it.”

Approximately 58.5% of all New York residents have completed the vaccine series. Just over 70% of those 18 or older have completed the vaccine series.

Information on receiving a vaccine can be found here.