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US to recommend COVID-19 vaccine booster shots 8 months post-vaccination

(Image credit: Andriy Onufriyenko via Getty Images)

Health officials will likely recommend that people in the U.S. receive a COVID-19 booster shot eight months after their second dose, to boost protection against the highly-transmissible delta variant, according to recent news reports.

Before third doses can be administered, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will need to authorize them, according to The New York Times. The first booster doses would likely be given to those who were among the first vaccinated last winter, including nursing home residents, health care workers and emergency workers, likely followed by older people and then the general public, according to the Times.

The boosters will be recommended for those who were fully vaccinated with the Pfizer or Moderna shots; health officials are waiting for more data before advising people who received the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine, according to CBS News

Related: Coronavirus variants: Here's how the SARS-CoV-2 mutants stack up 

In any case, before third doses can be administered, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will need to authorize the boosters, according to The Association Press

Last week, the FDA approved booster shots for those with weakened immune systems, the FDA said in a statement. Studies have found that people who are immunocompromised, about 2.7% of the adult population in the U.S., do not mount as strong of a response against SARS-CoV-2 as healthy controls, Live Science previously reported.

But what about people who don't have weakened immune systems? Data suggests that COVID-19 vaccines used in the U.S. do protect most people from severe disease and illness caused by the delta variant, Live Science previously reported. But some data from Israel suggests that the effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is declining in the face of the delta variant, according to the Times. 

"There is a concern that the vaccine may start to wane in its effectiveness over months," Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health told Fox News Sunday. "And delta is a nasty one for us to try to deal with. The combination of those two means we may need boosters."

COVID-19 cases in the U.S., driven by the highly-transmissible delta variant, have been rising dramatically, especially in states with lower vaccination rates. Hospitalizations have also been steeply rising, but the vast majority of people who are hospitalized are unvaccinated.

On Aug 4, the World Health Organization called for a halt in booster shots at least until the end of September, to allow for enough doses for initial vaccination in poorer countries, according to Reuters.

But some countries have already begun giving booster shots to segments of their population. Turkey has already given more than 6.8 million booster shots, according to Hurriyet Daily News. Israel is offering booster shots to people over age 50, and Germany and France are planning to offer booster shots to vulnerable populations next month, according to the Times. 

In the U.S., health officials say people will likely receive a booster of the same vaccine that they originally received, according to the Times.

Originally published on Live Science.

Yasemin Saplakoglu

Yasemin is a staff writer at Live Science, covering health, neuroscience and biology. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, Science and the San Jose Mercury News. She has a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Connecticut and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.