Essential Workers Among First Eligible for COVID-19 Booster Shots

August 18, 2021

Frontline workers who were among the first Americans to receive COVID-19 vaccinations will be eligible for booster shots as early as September 20, CNN and the Associated Press report. 

U.S. health officials and medical experts announced yesterday they are ready to begin offering the vaccines next month, subject to authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and signoff from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The boosters will be eligible to all individuals eight months after they received their second vaccination dose. Those likely to receive boosters first will include nursing home residents, senior citizens, and essential workers, including environmental services and cleaning professionals.

The highly contagious delta variant and results from recent studies are driving the move toward booster shots, the Associated Press reports. A study from Israel suggests although the original vaccines remain highly protective against severe COVID-19, their effectiveness against symptomatic infection drops to 84% by six months. Another study, conducted in New York City, found that protection against hospitalizations stayed steady at about 95% over the nearly three months examined. But vaccine effectiveness against new laboratory-confirmed infections declined from about 92% in early May to about 80% in late July.

“We are concerned that this pattern of decline we’re seeing will continue in the months ahead, which could lead to reduced protection against severe disease, hospitalization and death,” said U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.

“Our plan is to protect the American people, to stay ahead of this virus,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

The initial booster doses will be for those who received the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. However, health officials anticipate people who received the Johnson & Johnson shot will likely need booster shots as well.