The U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said Thursday that an additional COVID-19 booster shot will be recommended "imminently" for previously vaccinated people with weakened immune systems.
In an interview on the "TODAY" show, Fauci said it is increasingly clear that many such patients are still vulnerable to COVID following vaccination because months after receiving the shots, their bodies are producing little to no antibodies. He said the purpose of the booster shot is to get their protection level up to where it should be.
Asked whether the general public will need one, Fauci said "at this moment, other than the immunocompromised, we’re not going to be giving boosters." However, he acknowledged that "inevitably there will come a time where we'll have to get boosts" because "no vaccine, at least not within this category, is going to have an indefinite amount of protection."
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People have compromised immune systems for a variety of reasons, including organ transplants, cancer or other conditions. Fauci said for other vaccinated groups, such as the elderly, data is being collected to determine if or when their protection goes “below a critical level” and “that’s when you’re going to be hearing about the implementation of boosters” for others.
The Food and Drug Administration is poised to amend the emergency use authorizations for the Pfizer and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines Thursday to allow people with compromised immune systems to get a third dose, two sources familiar with the plans told NBC News.
The move would come after a panel of advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention met in July and urged action on extra doses for immunocompromised adults.
An untold number of Americans have already managed to get COVID-19 booster shots even though the U.S. government hasn't approved them. They're doing so by taking advantage of the nation’s vaccine surplus and loose tracking of those who have been fully vaccinated.
An Associated Press review of a database run by the CDC found health care providers have reported more than 900 instances of people getting a third dose. However, because reporting is voluntary, the full extent of people who have received third doses is unknown. It’s also unknown if all of those people were actively trying to get a third dose as a booster