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All fully vaccinated adults in the United States will soon be eligible to receive booster shots for the two-dose COVID-19 vaccines, the White House confirmed during a press conference on Wednesday.
The boosters will be made available starting September 20, 2021, and open to the adults who received either the Moderna or Pfizer shots exactly eight months after they received their second dose, according to Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, the United States Surgeon General.
The government anticipates that those who received the Johnson&Johnson vaccine will also need a booster, but since those shots weren’t administered until March 2021, the program will likely start later.
The surgeon general emphasized the extra dose will provide a significant increase in effectiveness fighting COVID-19, especially the highly contagious Delta variant, which is causing the majority of new infections and starting to overwhelm the nation’s hospitals.
“The COVID-19 vaccines that are authorized in the United States have been remarkably effective, even against the wide-spread Delta variant,” Murthy said. “But we know that even highly effective vaccines come less effective over time. Our goal has been when that time might come for the COVI-19 vaccines, so we can make a plan to take proactive steps to extend and enhance the protection the vaccines are giving us.”
Government public health and medical experts had announced the decision earlier Wednesday in a a joint statement that also said data showed the effectiveness of vaccines does decrease over time—including protection against serious illness and death, especially in at-risk populations.
Vaccination rates, especially in the South and red-leaning states, has continued to lag, although more people have chosen to get the shot in the last several weeks, following the spread of the Delta variant. Over the weekend, five states—Florida, Louisiana, Hawaii, Oregon and Mississippi—set new COVID caseload records, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Other states are grappling with high caseloads as well. ICUs in five states—Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas—are more than 90 percent full, ABC reported.