A federal recommendation for Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine boosters is expected in the coming weeks, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said Friday.
The message came at a press briefing by White House COVID-19 response team and public health officials, including Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky, who announced that the third dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine can now be officially administered to some American adults.
“Now that the CDC and FDA recommendation applies to Pfizer vaccine recipients, I want to speak directly to those who received Moderna and J&J: Your health matters just as much as other vaccine recipients,” Murthy said. “That’s why the FDA is working closely with Moderna and J&J to get and process their data as quickly as possible, with the goal of making booster recommendations for Moderna and J&J recipients in the coming weeks.”
“This is a high, high priority,” he added.
Murthy also noted that with all the discussions around booster shots, the goal to get the nation vaccinated remains unchanged. He said the health agencies will continue their effort to reach unvaccinated Americans using a combination of increased access and a “community-based information campaign” to help them “get accurate, scientific information from sources they trust.”
The CDC now recommends booster doses for Pfizer vaccine recipients who are 65 and older and those who live in long-term care facilities at least six months after receiving their second dose.
Those eligible to the Pfizer booster shot also include adults 18 and over with certain underlying health conditions like diabetes and obesity; and those who are deemed at higher risk of COVID-19 because of where they work or where they live, such as healthcare workers, teachers, and grocery store workers.
President Joe Biden is pushing a pandemic response plan that includes new vaccine mandates, booster shots for the vaccinated, and increased testing. The president, who received his second dose of Pfizer vaccine in January, said on Friday morning that he will be getting a booster shot.
“It’s hard to acknowledge I’m over 65, but I’ll be getting my booster shot,” he said. “I’m not sure exactly when I’m going to do it—as soon as I can get it done.”
The idea of boosters is based on concerns that the effectiveness of the vaccines could decline over time that one or more additional shots are needed to enhance protection against COVID-19 and its variants. Despite his push for boosters, Biden insisted that the odds of a breakthrough infection are low.
“Again, the bottom line is: If you’re fully vaccinated, you’re highly protected from severe illness even if you get COVID-19,” he said, citing a New York Times data analysis, which indicates there’s only one confirmed positive case per 5,000 fully vaccinated Americans per day.