Federal regulators have approved booster shots for people who received Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. (Photo by Parker Michels-Boyce for the Virginia Mercury)
WASHINGTON — Tens of millions of additional Americans are now eligible to receive a booster dose of one of the COVID-19 vaccines, after federal health officials gave the green light late Thursday to follow-up doses of the shots made by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
Anyone who received the one-shot J&J vaccine is now eligible for a second dose at least two months after their shot.
Moderna recipients who are over age 65 or at higher risk due to their medical condition or work environment also are eligible for a partial third dose at least six months after their second shot.
Those who received Pfizer’s vaccine already were eligible to receive a booster dose.
The recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also allows individuals to receive a booster dose from a different company than the one that manufactured the initial vaccine that they received.
Some have wanted a different followup dose due to adverse reactions to a certain vaccine. Others have been concerned about the J&J shot, which studies have shown to have a lower efficacy against infection compared to the ones from Pfizer and Moderna.
The three vaccines against COVID-19 “are all highly effective in reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even in the midst of the widely circulating delta variant,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said in a statement Thursday night.
A Pfizer study released Thursday showed that a booster dose of the company’s vaccine was 95.6% effective in the trial of more than 10,000 participants.
The newly authorized booster shots come as the sharp spike in infections and deaths caused by that delta variant has begun to wane.
But the country is still seeing about 75,000 new cases every day, and about 1,300 COVID-19-related deaths, according to CDC tracking data.
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