Public health and medical experts from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, or a booster shot, is recommended to maximize protection against the virus and its variants.
A third dose of the vaccine will begin the week of September 20 for all those who received their second dose of the coronavirus vaccine eight months ago. It was January of 2021 when the earliest doses were administered to health care workers, nursing home residents, and other seniors. They will be among the first eligible for a third shot.
Third shots have already been administered to those who have received both doses but are still at risk due to a compromised immune system. That includes those receiving certain types of cancer treatments, organ transplant recipients, or those diagnosed with a similar level of compromised immunity.
A third dose is limited to those who have received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines. It is anticipated booster shots will be needed for people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Administration of that vaccine did not begin until March 2021.
“Our top priority remains staying ahead of the virus and protecting the American people from COVID-19 with safe, effective, and long-lasting vaccines especially in the context of a constantly changing virus and epidemiologic landscape. We will continue to follow the science on a daily basis, and we are prepared to modify this plan should new data emerge that requires it,” according to a joint statement issued by Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the CDC; Dr. Janet Woodcock, Acting Commissioner, FDA; Dr. Vivek Murthy, U.S. Surgeon General; Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health; Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Advisor to President Joe Biden and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID); Dr. Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary for Health; Dr. David Kessler, Chief Science Officer for the COVID-19 Response; and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, Chair of the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force.
While there have been a few “breakthrough” cases affecting fully vaccinated people, most of those cases have been minor.
“Nearly all the cases of severe disease, hospitalization, and death continue to occur among those not yet vaccinated at all,” the statement continued. “We will continue to ramp up efforts to increase vaccinations here at home and to ensure people have accurate information about vaccines from trusted sources.”
Stop the spread
The rise of Delta and other variants makes it crucial to get fully vaccinated. AltaMed has free vaccine events for anyone 12 years old and up. You can also contact our vaccine hotline at (888) 909-5232 if you are eligible for a third COVID-19 shot.
In the meantime, regardless of your vaccination status:
- You need to follow local and state safety guidelines.
- Wear a face mask when indoors or in crowds to protect yourself and others.
- Maintain hand hygiene — use hand sanitizer to clean hands frequently, and wash hands for 20 seconds at a time.
- Practice physical distancing — stay six feet apart from others whether inside or outside.
- Wipe down any surfaces you touch.