MONDAY, Sept. 20, 2021 (HealthDay News) – If Americans who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccines are dismayed by the lack of information on booster shots for them, their wait should end soon.
Data on booster shots for those vaccines is only a few weeks away from a review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday during interviews on various television news programs.
"The actual data that we'll get [on] that third shot for the Moderna and second shot for the J&J is literally a couple to a few weeks away," Fauci said on the NBC News' "Meet the Press." "We're working on that right now to get the data to the FDA, so they can examine it and make a determination about the boosters for those people."
On Friday, an FDA advisory panel voted unanimously to recommend a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine six months after the second dose for certain vulnerable Americans—those aged 65 and older, anyone at high risk for severe illness, and people who have greater exposure to the virus because of their jobs. The FDA is expected to issue its decision on Pfizer booster shots this week, the Washington Post reported. The agency typically, though not always, follows the advice of its advisory panels.
Fauci acknowledged that the approximately 81 million Americans who received the Moderna or J&J vaccines may feel left out.
"We are definitely paying strong attention to both the J&J people and those who received a Moderna," said Fauci, who is director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "They're not being left behind by any means."
The process of rolling out booster shots is evolving, noted Fauci, who is 80 and plans to get a booster shot when it's approved.
"The one thing I think people need to realize is that data are coming in, literally, on a daily and weekly basis," Fauci explained. "They're going to continue to look at this, literally in real time. More data will be coming in on both safety for younger individuals, efficacy… So, the story is not over yet. I think people need to understand that. This is not the end of the story."
Fauci also addressed an announcement made last month by President Joe Biden, who said booster shots would be available starting Sept. 20 for all vaccinated Americans. In his announcement, Biden said people would get their third doses eight months after their second shots. At the time, Biden pointed to waning protection against infection after several months.
"The president was very clear, as was the medical group, when we said we are planning to do this," Fauci said on CNN's "State of the Union.
Fauci noted that the rollout of boosters was always conditional on an FDA review and that Biden made that clear when he first announced plans for booster shots.
Dr. Francis Collins, director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, also weighed in on the booster debate during television morning show interviews on Sunday.
That the question of boosters has evolved over time shows that the process is working, Collins said, the Post reported. Collins would not say whether he thought everyone needed a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, but he did note that a decision on whether to extend booster eligibility beyond those recommended by the FDA panel on Friday would likely happen in the coming weeks.
"In a certain way… this is the way it ought to be," Collins said on CBS News' "Face the Nation." "Science sort of playing out in a very transparent way, looking at the data coming from multiple places, our country, other countries and trying to make the best decision for right now. That's what they did."
More information: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more information on COVID-19 vaccines.
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