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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12:42 p.m. ET, August 18, 2021

Here's who is is eligible for a Covid-19 booster shot

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

Allison Dinner/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Allison Dinner/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Health officials announced that some fully vaccinated US adults will be eligible to receive a Covid-19 booster dose starting in September, during a White House update.

Here are key things to know about the booster dose roll-out and requirements:

  • Who is eligible for the booster shot? Fully vaccinated adults (18 years and older) who received two doses of an mRNA vaccine will be eligible.
  • When will people be able to receive an extra dose? Booster doses will be available starting Sept. 20, 2021.
  • How long after your initial vaccination do you have to wait? The booster dose will be administered to qualifying adults eights months after their second Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccine. For example, if you received your second vaccine dose on Feb. 1, 2021, you would be eligible for a booster Oct. 1, 2021.
  • What about people who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine? US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said that he anticipates that those who received the J&J vaccine will also need a booster shot, but added that more data should come in the following weeks.

Health officials said the rollout ensures that vulnerable populations — who were first to get initial doses of the vaccine — will be eligible first for the booster shot. This includes health care providers, nursing home residents and other seniors.

Murthy noted that the current roll-out plan is pending on "FDA conducting an independent evaluation of the safety and effectiveness of a third dose of the Pfizer and Modern mRNA  vaccines. And the CDC's advisory committee on immunization practices issuing booster dose recommendations ,based on a thorough review of the evidence."

11:52 a.m. ET, August 18, 2021

US officials on vaccines: We don't have to "choose between America and the world"

The US just announced plans to begin booster shots next month, but the World Health Organization has said it still recommends the world’s most vulnerable get fully vaccinated before booster shots are offered.

Asked about the US's booster shot plan in regards to global vaccination efforts, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said the US has a responsibility to do both.

"I do not accept the idea that we have to choose between America and the world. We clearly see our responsibility to both," he said.

Murthy continued:

"When we see data that is giving us essentially indications that protection is starting to diminish in terms of mild and moderate disease when we recognize that if this trajectory continues, that people who are well protected today may see more vulnerability in the future, we have to act. The science tells us that. Our clinical judgment tells us that, and that was a collective decision of the top public health and medical experts in this administration. 

"Again, we will do everything possible to protect people in our country. That's why we're announcing this booster plan, but we will also continue to accelerate our efforts to vaccinate the rest of the world," he added.

Jeff Zients, the White House Covid-19 response coordinator, agreed, saying both global vaccine efforts and protecting Americans are "critical."

"During the coming months, when we talk about booster shots, we expect to give about 100 million boosters in the United States and at the same time we will be donating more than 200 million — twice that number — additional doses, to other countries on our way to donating more than 600 million vaccines," he said.


1:04 p.m. ET, August 18, 2021

200 million Americans will have received a first vaccine dose by days end, White House says

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

Mario Tama/Getty Images
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Two hundred million Americans will have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine once the vaccination numbers from Wednesday are reported, White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients announced. 

Zients touted the increase in the vaccination rate both broadly, and specifically among adolescents as they return to school, as a milestone with nearly seven million Americans receiving their first dose over the past two weeks.

That number is the highest two-week total of first doses administered since the beginning of June, he said, and is accompanied by a 75% increase in the average daily number of 12 to 15-year-olds getting vaccinated.

“Americans across the country are continuing to step up, do their part and get vaccinated,” Zients said at a briefing from the White House Covid-19 response team on Wednesday. 

Despite that, Zients warned that cases continue to rise thanks to the Delta variant, especially in communities with a lower vaccination rate. 

“We continue to see a rise in cases driven by the more transmissible Delta variant, with cases concentrated in communities with lower vaccination rates. So this remains a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Zients said. 

The whole of government response to Covid-19 now sees surge response teams working with 16 states to help them respond to any outbreaks, Zients added. 


11:45 a.m. ET, August 18, 2021

Booster shots will be free regardless of if you have insurance, White House official says

Booster Covid-19 vaccines will be free, regardless of immigration or health insurance status, Jeff Zients, the White House Covid-19 response coordinator, said on Wednesday. The official also noted people will not need to bring an ID.

He said because of actions taken to establish the vaccination program, it will be "just as easy and convenient to get a booster shot as it is to get a first shot."

"The bottom line is that we are prepared for boosters, and we will hit the ground running," he added.

When they are eligible, people will be able to get a third dose at about 80,000 places across the country, including 40,000 local pharmacies, Zients said, adding the US has enough vaccine supply for every American.

"In fact, 90% of Americans have a vaccine site within five miles of where they live," Zients said.

1:04 p.m. ET, August 18, 2021

Surgeon general: "The time to lay out a plan for Covid-19 boosters is now"

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

White House
White House

US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy outlined the White House's plan to provide Covid-19 booster shots for fully vaccinated Americans. Qualified, fully vaccinated adults will be eligible for their booster shots beginning Sept. 20, he said.

The official said that after reviewing the most current data, they've assessed the time to lay out the plan for boosters "is now."

"The Covid-19 vaccines that are authorized in the United States have been remarkably effective, even against the widespread Delta variant. But we know even highly effective vaccines become less effective over time. Our goal has been to determine when that time might come for the Covid-19 vaccines so we can make a plan to take proactive steps to extend and enhance the protection the vaccines are giving us. Having reviewed the most current data, it is now our clinical judgment, that the time to lay out a plan for Covid-19 boosters is now," Murthy said during an press briefing from the White House Covid-19 response team.

Murthy noted that recent data has shown that vaccine induced protection "against mild and moderate disease has decreased over time."

"This is likely due to both waning immunity and the strength of the widespread Delta variant. Even though this new data affirms that vaccine protection remains high against the worst outcomes of Covid, we are concerned that this pattern of decline we're seeing will continue in the months ahead which could lead to reduced protection against severe disease, hospitalization and death," Murthy added.

Due to those concerns, Murthy said that Covid-19 booster shots will be available for fully vaccinated adults, 18 years and older. Fully vaccinated adults would be eligible for the booster shot eight months after they received their second does of Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines.

"This plan is pending the FDA conducting an independent evaluation of the safety and effectiveness of a third dose of the Pfizer and Modern mRNA  vaccines. And the CDC's advisory committee on immunization practices issuing booster dose recommendations ,based on a thorough review of the evidence. The plan ensures that people who were  fully vaccinated earliest in the vaccination rollout will be eligible for a booster first. This includes our most vulnerable populations like our health care providers, nursing home residents and other seniors," Murthy added.

The US surgeon general noted that booster shots will also likely be needed for people who initially received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but that they are awaiting more data.

11:35 a.m. ET, August 18, 2021

Studies on the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines show these 3 main points

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of Centers for Disease Control, said data analyzed from studies around the world make clear three main points about the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines.

Here's what she said the data indicates:

  • Protection from infection by the vaccines begins to decrease over time.
  • Vaccine effectiveness against severe disease, hospitalization and death remains high.
  • Vaccine effectiveness is "generally decreased against the Delta variant."

The data comes as the US Surgeon General announced a plan for Americans to get a third booster dose 8 months after their second mRNA vaccine.

"As we make decisions about boosters though, we also have to look at vaccine effectiveness in the specific context of the Delta variant," Walensky said.

She pointed to results from two studies among health care workers, first responders and other frontline workers across the country. She said it shows "waning effectiveness against symptomatic and asymptomatic infection in the context of the Delta variant."

Walensky emphasized that vaccines still continue to offer the best protection against getting sick with Covid-19. She said the best way to keep yourself and others safe is to get vaccinated in the first place.

"While we are still learning about how these vaccines perform over time and how long they will last against emerging variants, one thing is very clear. Getting vaccinated can keep you out of the hospital. Getting vaccinated can save your life," she said.
11:29 a.m. ET, August 18, 2021

Surgeon general to Americans: Don't "go out and get a booster today"

US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy just announced the US' plan to begin offering booster shots to Americans who received mRNA vaccines, like those made by Pfizer and Moderna.

However, Murthy urged Americans to wait until the rollout starts and discouraged them from seeking a booster shot today.

"If you are fully vaccinated, you still have a high degree of protection from the worst outcomes of Covid-19, severe disease, hospitalization and death," he said. "So we are not recommending that you go out and get a booster today. Instead, starting the week of Sept. 20, fully vaccinated adults could begin getting their booster shots eight months after their second shot of an mRNA vaccine."

Murthy added that while they anticipate people who got the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will also need a booster, but they're waiting on more data.

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.