Members of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices also voted on a second question, and strengthened the recommendation to say that people over the age of 50 should receive a booster dose of vaccine.
Previously, boosters were authorized for all 65 years and older who were vaccinated with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines at least six months ago and for certain adults at high risk of infection or serious illness.
“During the COVID-1[ads1]9 pandemic, the FDA has worked to make timely public health decisions as the pandemic develops. Covid-19 vaccines have proven to be the best and most effective defense against COVID-19. Approve the use of a single booster dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for people 18 years and older helps provide continued protection against COVID-19, including the serious consequences that can occur, such as hospitalization and death, “the FDA said. Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement.
Recent real-world studies suggest that immunity to Covid-19 vaccines is beginning to decline and protection against milder and asymptomatic disease, in particular, may be declining. Studies have shown that booster doses restore that immunity.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also told CNN this week that recent data from Israel shows that among people aged 60 and older, those who received a booster were less likely to become seriously ill. than vaccinated individuals who had not received a booster. The incidence of serious illness remained highest among those who had not been vaccinated.
Boosters can be officially given to all adults after CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signs up for a recommendation.
However, the majority of adults are already eligible to receive boosters, and several states have officially opened boosters to all adults already.
“Everyone is qualified”
Extending booster qualifications to all adults in the United States may not change the logistics around getting shot in the arms.
The vaccine supply for boosters is already in place in many places. There are no “extra steps” on the administration side of the booster rollout that need to happen, Adriane Casalotti, head of government and public affairs at the National Association of County and City Health Officials, told CNN.
“If we look nationally, we have enough vaccine. There are many places that have agreements. It obviously varies a bit depending on where you live geographically because there is more demand in some areas than others,” Casalotti told CNN.
“But having said that, I think the main preparation is on the communications side,” Casalotti added. “The communication to the local health professionals and public health departments is that now you do not have to worry about eligibility if someone asks if they need to get a booster. This is the information – everyone is qualified after six months.”
More than 32 million people in the United States – about 16% of those who are fully vaccinated – have received a booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine, according to CDC data.
Approximately 18 million elderly people have received a booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine, according to CDC data, which accounts for more than half of all booster doses administered and increases the immune response of more than a third of fully vaccinated elderly people.
The future of boosters
The United States now has an average of 94,943 new Covid-19 cases every day, according to Johns Hopkins University – an increase of 31% compared to last week and back to the levels last more than a month ago. Midwestern states account for more than a third (38%) of new cases.
There is concern that winter weather driving people indoors and holiday gatherings could lead to even more cases.
“We absolutely want people to be as well protected as they possibly can go into the season,” said Dr. Marci Drees, head of infection prevention and hospital epidemiologist for Delaware-based ChristianaCare.
Drees is a Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America liaison to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Vaccines.
“I think we are at the point now where too many people who were vaccinated last winter and spring, now would be the time when their protection diminishes,” she said.
Once people have received their Covid-19 vaccine booster shots, it is not clear when they may need a new vaccine dose – if ever.
“It’s definitely the million-dollar question. We know the boosters will increase people’s immunity back to that range of 90% to 95% in the short term. We do not know how long that will last,” Drees said.
“In some ways we are going a new way – and much of it is driven by whether we can get enough immunity in the population so that we can really block further transmission,” Drees said. “We know that boosters are not going to end the pandemic. They want to help and prevent people from getting sick, but we really still need to push to get the first and second dose to people as well.”
CNN’s Maggie Fox and Deidre McPhillips contributed to this report.