Fauci: Booster Shots for Immunocompromised People in the Works

Ralph Ellis

August 09, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

The US government is working to make booster shots available for immunocompromised people "as quickly as possible," Anthony Fauci, the White House medical adviser, said Thursday.

Government health officials have said booster shots for the general population are not needed now, but the rise of the highly transmissible Delta variant has created new dangers for people with compromised immune systems, such as those undergoing chemotherapy, with HIV, or taking certain medications.

"It is extremely important for us to move to get those individuals their boosters, and we are now working on that and will make that be implemented as quickly as possible, because for us and for the individuals involved it is a very high priority," Fauci said in a news briefing at the White House.

CDC data shows that immunocompromised people make up 2.7% of the US population.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the FDA expects to have a strategy by early September on COVID-19 vaccine boosters, including decisions on which people should be prioritized.

The Biden administration is worried that certain groups could need a booster as soon as this month, such as people who are immunocompromised, over 65, or who got their vaccine during the early rollout in December and January, the Journal reported, citing unnamed people familiar with discussions within the agency.

Vaccine makers Moderna and Pfizer have said they think booster shots would be a good idea.

Moderna said this week that neutralizing antibodies generated by its vaccine against three variants of the virus that causes the disease waned substantially 6 months after the second dose. Because of this, the company expects an increase in breakthrough infections with a need for boosters before winter.

Pfizer said in July that data from a booster study showed that antibody levels jumped by 5 to 10 times after a third dose, as compared with the second dose months before. That finding indicated a need for booster shots, Pfizer said.

After meeting with Pfizer officials in July, the CDC and the FDA issued a joint statement that said those who have been fully vaccinated "do not need a booster shot at this time."

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