Covid-19 booster shots to be offered in the US

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 8:38 PM ET, Wed August 18, 2021
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11:26 a.m. ET, August 18, 2021

Surgeon general: We anticipate boosters will also be needed for J&J vaccine recipients

US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said that health officials "anticipate" Covid-19 boosters will also be needed for individuals who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine.

"For people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, we anticipate vaccine boosters will likely be needed. The J&J vaccine was not administered in the US until March of 2021, and we expect more data on J&J in the coming weeks. With those data in hand, we will keep the public informed of the timely plan for J&J booster shots," he said.

Some context: The Biden administration announced today that Covid-19 vaccine booster shots will be offered to eligible Americans beginning Sept. 20, subject to authorization from the FDA, US health officials said.

While those initial booster doses will be for the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the officials noted in the statement that they anticipate booster shots will likely be needed for people who initially received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

11:10 a.m. ET, August 18, 2021

NOW: US officials give an update on Covid-19 and booster shots

The White House is now holding a Covid-19 briefing. Officials at the briefing are expected to discuss a plan to begin rolling our Covid-19 booster shots starting next month.

More on this: US public health officials and medical experts announced in a joint statement on Wednesday that booster doses of Covid-19 vaccine will be offered this fall, subject to authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration and sign off from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We are prepared to offer booster shots for all Americans beginning the week of September 20 and starting 8 months after an individual’s second dose," US health officials, including CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky and FDA Acting Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock, said in the statement.
11:32 a.m. ET, August 18, 2021

US health officials say booster shots will be offered to all Americans beginning Sept. 20

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

White House
White House

US public health officials and medical experts announced in a joint statement on Wednesday that booster doses of Covid-19 vaccine will be offered this fall, subject to authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration and sign off from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We are prepared to offer booster shots for all Americans beginning the week of September 20 and starting 8 months after an individual’s second dose," US health officials, including CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky and FDA Acting Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock, said in the statement.

"At that time, the individuals who were fully vaccinated earliest in the vaccination rollout, including many health care providers, nursing home residents, and other seniors, will likely be eligible for a booster. We would also begin efforts to deliver booster shots directly to residents of long-term care facilities at that time, given the distribution of vaccines to this population early in the vaccine rollout and the continued increased risk that COVID-19 poses to them," the statement said.

The officials write that the authorized Covid-19 vaccines are “remarkably effective in reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant," but it’s clear that protection against the coronavirus begins to decrease over time.

The statement said “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. For that reason, we conclude that a booster shot will be needed to maximize vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability.”

While those initial booster doses will be for the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the officials noted in the statement that they anticipate booster shots will likely be needed for people who initially received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. "Administration of the J&J vaccine did not begin in the U.S. until March 2021, and we expect more data on J&J in the next few weeks," the statement said.

The officials ended the statement by noting that they continue to expand efforts to increase the supply of vaccines globally for other countries, "building further on the more than 600 million doses we have already committed to donate globally."

Officials are expected to discuss the plan during an 11 a.m. ET White House Covid-19 briefing.

The statement was signed by Walensky, Woodcock, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Rachel Levine, Chief Science Officer for the COVID Response Dr. David Kessler and Chair of the COVID Health Equity Task Force Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith.

10:16 a.m. ET, August 18, 2021

Texas school district pushes back on mask ban mandate, makes masks part of dress code

From CNN's Mallory Simon 

A school district in Texas voted to amend their current dress code to include masks in an effort to protect students and get around Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates.

The Paris Independent School District, a district of about 4,000 students is northeast of Dallas, approved an amendment to their dress code by a vote of 5 to 1 in a meeting on Tuesday. 

“The board believes the dress code can be used to mitigate communicable health issues, and therefore has amended the PISD dress code to protect our students and employees,” the district said in a statement. “The Texas governor does not have the authority to usurp the board of trustees’ exclusive power and duty to govern and oversee the management of the public schools of the district.”

In July, Abbott issued an executive order combining many of his earlier Covid-19 orders, which included language that no governmental entity, including school districts, could require masks. This order is being challenged by many local jurisdictions. 

Paris ISD students’ first day of school is on Thursday.

10:41 a.m. ET, August 18, 2021

Ahead of boosters, the US needs to get vaccines around the world, former CDC official says

From CNN's Elise Hammond

Booster shots are not going to end the pandemic, Dr. Richard Besser, the former acting director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is reminding people.

He said what is going to end the pandemic is two-fold. The first, he said, is to find a way to motivate those who have not even received one dose of a vaccine to get a shot.

The second thing that will be important is to do a better job at getting vaccines around the world, "because as long as there is transmission anywhere, everyone is at risk," Besser said.

"We are at risk for variants to arise that the vaccines are totally ineffective against," he said.

"Then from a pure equity standpoint, the fact that 80% plus of the vaccines have gone to wealthy nations is really unconscionable. We need to do more here in America to get vaccines around the globe," he added.

Some context: The World Health Organization is calling for this too.

Maria van Kerkhove, WHO's technical lead for Covid-19, told CNN that the organization continues to recommend that those most at-risk for Covid-19 around the world need to be fully vaccinated with their first and second Covid-19 shots before large populations in some countries receive a third shot. 

10:17 a.m. ET, August 18, 2021

WHO recommends world’s most vulnerable get fully vaccinated before booster shots are offered elsewhere

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Maria van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s technical lead for Covid-19, told CNN’s John Berman on New Day Tuesday that WHO continues to recommend that those most at-risk for Covid-19 around the world need to be fully vaccinated with their first and second Covid-19 shots before large populations in some countries receive a third shot. 

“I’d be very interested to learn more about the plans for this,” van Kerkhove said when asked her view of the United States possibly planning for booster shots for all Americans starting as soon as next month.

“What we are recommending at a global level, I mean this is a global pandemic and we need to think about global solutions, what our recommendation is is that all of the world’s most vulnerable, and those who are most risk, health workers, need to receive their first and second doses before large proportions of the population, or all of the population in some countries, receive that third dose.” 

She said that the science says that the vaccines are incredible safe and effective in preventing severe disease and death, and until the science says otherwise, WHO’s recommendation will remain the same. 

“To make sure that those who are most at risk, older populations, those with underlying conditions and, critically, our health workers in all countries around the world, receive that first and second dose before we do the boosters for those who don’t necessarily need it right now,” she said. 

Asked if most Americans getting booster shots is something that WHO supports, van Kerkhove said that this is a global problem that needs a global solution. 

“It’s not only about one country. We have a limited amount of vaccine, there’s a limited amount of production, we need to use those doses that is epidemiologically sound, that is morally sound, that is economically sound, that is scientifically sound. And that really is focusing on those who are most at risk,” she said.

“This is a problem that has a solution,” she said. “So, we need to use those vaccines in the most appropriate way possible around the world.” 

She acknowledged some populations may need a third dose; already, some immunocompromised people in the United States are eligible to receive a third dose of mRNA vaccine.

“We need to see what that plan is. There are possibilities and there are populations that may need that third dose,” she said. “So, we’re not against that, of course we want people to be protected and to receive the full course. But what we are trying to move against is giving a third dose to people who already are well protected.” 

 

10:08 a.m. ET, August 18, 2021

Biden administration expected to advise Covid-19 booster shots for Americans starting in September

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

Top health officials in the Biden administration are coalescing around an agreement that most Americans should get Covid booster shots eight months after becoming fully vaccinated, two sources familiar with the discussions tell CNN.

The plan — which is still being developed — would involve administering third shots beginning in mid-to-late September, one source added, pending authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration. Pfizer and BioNTech said Monday that the companies have submitted initial data to the FDA to support the use of booster doses for their Covid-19 vaccines.

The plan could be announced as soon as this week, though the timing could slide. Until now, federal health officials have said boosters are not needed by the general population. Last week, the FDA authorized third doses for some people who are immunocompromised and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention almost immediately recommended giving those doses.

News of the plan for boosters for most Americans was first reported by The New York Times.

Given that health care workers and nursing home patients were first to receive their shots, the administration currently expects they’ll be first to receive boosters as well. Older populations who were also at the front of the line for first vaccinations would be next, the source said.

This is the current booster plan for those who got vaccines with two doses. Officials are still gathering data for Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine. Experts currently anticipate that those who received J&J will need booster shots as well, but they will make that decision once they have more data, a source familiar with discussions told CNN.

Earlier Monday, Pfizer and BioNTech said they had submitted initial data to the FDA to support the use of a booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine.

A third dose elicited a significantly higher antibody response against the initial strain of coronavirus, as well as the Delta and Beta variants, compared with what was seen among people who got two doses, the companies said.

“Given the high levels of immune responses observed, a booster dose given within 6 to 12 months after the primary vaccination schedule may help maintain a high level of protection against COVID-19,” the company said in a statement.

“This initial data indicate that we may preserve and even exceed the high levels of protection against the wild-type virus and relevant variants using a third dose of our vaccine,” added Dr. Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech. “A booster vaccine could help reduce infection and disease rates in people who have previously been vaccinated and better control the spread of virus variants during the coming season.”

Last month, researchers reported the Johnson & Johnson vaccine provides immunity that lasts at least eight months, and it appears to provide adequate protection against the worrying Delta variant. Johnson & Johnson said at the time that a second or booster dose of its vaccine would not be necessary. Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have both said their two-dose vaccines are protective for at least six months.

CNN’s Jen Christensen contributed to this report.