The White House COVID-19 response team on Thursday confirmed that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are taking steps to approve COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for people with compromised immune systems.
The announcement comes after multiple news reports surfaced Wednesday that said the FDA could authorize boosters for the immunocompromised as soon as this week. White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci further confirmed such an announcement was coming in appearances Thursday on the Today Show and NPR.
Later in the week, panels within the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will meet and vote on providing approval for additional shots.
The current emergency use authorization only allows for two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The CDC says people with compromised immune systems include those with HIV/AIDS, cancer and transplant patients.
During a White House COVID-19 briefing Thursday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that the agency estimates that the total population of immunocompromised people in the U.S. amounts to about 3% of adults, and only certain people in the group would need to see out another shot.
In speaking with the Today Show, Fauci indicated that all Americans would at some point need a booster shot to increase protections against COVID-19. However, he said that approval for boosters wouldn't come for the general public until later.
"No vaccine, at least not within this category, is going to have an indefinite amount of protection. So, an answer to your question, it's right. Inevitably, there will be a time when we'll have to get boosts," Fauci said. "Right now, at this moment, other than the immunocompromised, we're not going to be giving boosts to people. But we will be following them very closely, and if they need it, we will be ready to give it to them."
Fauci was also asked about a non-peer-reviewed study that found that the Pfizer vaccine gave only six months of protection against COVID-19. Fauci said that the federal government was collecting real-time data and that should those findings prove to be correct, it would recommend more booster shots.
"Right now, at this moment, they are examining the data. They do not feel now that they absolutely have to give (booster shots), except for the immune-compromised," Fauci said.
Later, during the White House briefing, Fauci clarified that the U.S. is already monitoring vaccine supply levels in the event boosters are recommended, and that the government would have enough supply on hand if such an announcement were made.