Those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 do not need booster shots at this time, according to a joint statement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday evening.
Pfizer and the company’s partner BioNTech announced plans to ask regulators in the coming weeks permission to offer booster shots of Pfizer’s vaccine based on evidence in Israel that after six months the vaccine’s effectiveness fell to 64 percent.
U.S. regulators in the joint statement said more study is needed to determine if and when a booster shot would be beneficial, stressing that the vaccines work at preventing severe disease and death.
“The United States is fortunate to have highly effective vaccines that are widely available for those aged 12 and up. People who are fully vaccinated are protected from severe disease and death, including from the variants currently circulating in the country such as Delta. People who are not vaccinated remain at risk,” the statement reads. “Virtually all COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are among those who are unvaccinated. We encourage Americans who have not yet been vaccinated to get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect themselves and their community.”
The U.S. regulators said the FDA, CDC and the National Institute of Health are studying laboratory data, clinical trial and pharmacy data to determine whether booster shots may be needed.
“We continue to review any new data as it becomes available and will keep the public informed. We are prepared for booster doses if and when the science demonstrates that they are needed,” the statement reads.
While researchers debate the need for booster shots, many Alabamians haven’t agreed to take a single dose. New COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise, and UAB’s Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo on Wednesday warned that the delta variant poses a significant risk and, with the state’s low vaccination rate, could lead to a summer surge.
Alabama has vaccinated the smallest percentage of residents in the nation against COVID-19, at 33.1 percent, according to the CDC, just less than Mississippi’s 33.3 percent. Alabama had held the ranking of second worst percentage of vaccinations for many months.