Hundreds of thousands of people across the U.S. are lining up for additional COVID vaccine shots. By Sept. 24, both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had authorized a booster for certain groups of people who had gotten a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine at least six months prior. More than 400,000 people got this additional shot the weekend after, and nearly a million people have already scheduled their Pfizer booster shot appointment, according to the White House COVID Response Team. Those who got Moderna or Johnson & Johnson have been warned to wait for their booster shots, and now the CDC has released a new update on what happens next.
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CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, recently discussed COVID booster shots on a special edition of SiriusXM Doctor Radio’s Doctor Radio Reports. During the Sept. 30 interview, Walensky said that Pfizer was the vaccine initially authorized for these additional shots because “they were the one who came forward with their data soonest.”
“Pfizer was the first step,” she explained. “But we have not forgotten about you—all of those who have gotten J&J, and all of those who have gotten Moderna.”
According to Walensky, the CDC expects that it will have the next steps for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s booster vaccination campaign in “a few short weeks.” Moderna submitted data on additional shots to the FDA on Sept. 1. The vaccine manufacturer said at the time that a third half-dose of its vaccine increased antibody levels more than 40 times against the Delta variant.
For its part, Johnson & Johnson asked the FDA on Oct. 5 to grant emergency-use authorization for its booster dose. “Our clinical program has found that a booster of our COVID-19 vaccine increases levels of protection for those who have received our single-shot vaccine to 94 percent. We look forward to our discussions with the FDA and other health authorities to support their decisions regarding boosters,” Mathai Mammen, MD, the global head of research and development for the Janssen Pharmaceuticals division of Johnson & Johnson, said in a statement.
The Washington Post says the FDA’s Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee is set to meet Oct. 14 and 15 to discuss and consider booster requests from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
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Health experts maintain that all three vaccines remain effective against the virus, even without booster. According to a Sept. 17 study from the CDC, Moderna’s vaccine has stayed the most effective against hospitalizations amid the Delta surge from March to Aug. 2021, at 93 percent. But even though Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines appeared to wane more during this same timeframe, they were still 88 percent and 71 percent effective against hospitalization, respectively.
“I do really want to emphasize that those who have been fully vaccinated really maintain really quite good protection against severe disease and hospitalization and maintain quite good protection against infection,” Walensky assured listeners in her SiriusXM interview. “So all of these efforts right now are in the spirit of really staying ahead of this virus and getting ahead of it … before we see extra hospitalizations.”
RELATED: The CDC Director Says If You Want a Booster, Don’t Do This Right Now.