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COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for immunocompromised people could be coming—but what about for the rest of us?

booster shots immunocompromised
Photo via Travis Wise/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will review a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control that people who are immunocompromised should receive booster shots for COVID-19. If approved, the booster shots could be administered as early as September.

As the Washington Post observed in its report, “The stepped-up activity reflects increased urgency by the Biden administration to shield some of the nation’s most vulnerable adults as coronavirus cases rise sharply. That has increased as some other countries take steps to provide shots to people who are immunocompromised or older and as some Americans pursue the shots on their own.”

The FDA review should come by mid-August, and if the plan is approved, emergency use authorizations for the vaccines will be amended to allow for the booster shots for immunocompromised people to be administered.

The CDC notes that 7 million adults in the United States are considered immunocompromised. The classification includes those who have received organ transplants, people who are being treated for cancer, those with rheumatologic conditions, and HIV-positive people.

ABC News‘ coverage of the story observed, “Many immunocompromised Americans have not had high immune responses to the vaccines, leaving them vulnerable to the virus even after getting a shot. Response has been low particularly in transplant recipients, cancer patients, or people on medications that suppress their immune response.”

A CDC advisory panel, weighing in recently, recommended a third shot for immunocompromised people. While there’s consideration being given to booster shots for other segments of the population, those aren’t being recommended for now.

“It is extremely important for us to move to get those individuals their boosters and we are now working on that,” Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Aug. 5, citing the concerning data about immunocompromised people not being as responsive to vaccines.

Fauci has also hinted that though immunocompromised people are the priority for booster shots, they soon may follow for the general population.

According to the Post, it’s not yet clear what the data will show about mixing and matching—say, in using a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to bolster Johnson & Johnson’s shot.

But the U.S. won’t be the first to make this move. Israel, for instance, is already offering third doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech to severely immunocompromised adults who received two prior doses, and The Hill adds that countries like France and Germany are also making vaccines available to the immunocompromised and the elderly.

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Sources: Washington Post, ABC News, The Hill


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