Booster shots are like giving extra life jackets to people who already have them, WHO official says
From CNN’s Naomi Thomas
Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies programme, said on Wednesday that giving Covid-19 booster shots is like handing out extra life jackets to people who already have them.
Regardless of what agreement science comes to on benefits from booster doses, “the reality is, right now, today, if we think about this in terms of an analogy, we’re planning to hand out extra life jackets to people who already have life jackets. While we’re leaving other people to drown without a single life jacket,” Ryan said during a news briefing in Geneva.
“That’s the reality,” he continued. “Science is not certain on this. There is clearly more data to collect. But the fundamental ethical reality is we’re handing out second life jackets while leaving millions and millions of people without anything to protect them.”
12:26 p.m. ET, August 18, 2021
“Data consistently demonstrate a reduction of vaccine effectiveness against infection over time,” CDC director says
From CNN's Jacqueline Howard
Three separate studies demonstrate how protection against Covid-19 infection that vaccines provide may decline over time, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a White House virtual briefing on Wednesday.
One of the studies, conducted in New York, found that vaccine effectiveness against new Covid-19 diagnoses declined from 92% to 80% over time from May 3 through July 25, based on the state's vaccine records.
"This allowed New York to study vaccine effectiveness against infection over time for more than 10 million New Yorkers of all ages," Walensky said, adding that the data will be published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) today.
Another study, conducted by the Mayo Clinic, analyzed vaccine effectiveness for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines among more than 80,000 people across all ages using data through July 16, Walensky said, adding, "Like we saw in the New York data, vaccine effectiveness against infection declined over time."
The Mayo Clinic study found that effectiveness fell from 76% to 42% among those who received the Pfizer vaccine and from 86% to 76% among those who received the Moderna vaccine. "These data are currently available on a pre-print server," Walensky said.
A third study, to be published today in the CDC's MMWR, found that vaccine effectiveness against Covid-19 infection among nursing home residents declined from 75% in March to 53% in August, Walensky said.
"Taken together, you can see that while the exact percentage of vaccine effectiveness over time differs depending on the cohort and setting studied, the data consistently demonstrate a reduction of vaccine effectiveness against infection over time," Walensky said. "Despite waning vaccine effectiveness against infection, data analyzed through July continue to demonstrate a stable and highly effective protection against severe illness and hospitalization for people who are vaccinated."
12:47 p.m. ET, August 18, 2021
Getting a booster "will be just as easy and convenient" as getting vaccinated for Covid-19
From CNN's DJ Judd
White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters at Wednesday’s Covid-19 briefing that getting a booster shot will be just as easy as getting the first shot.
“I want to be clear, the President's whole of government vaccination effort is ready to get every American who needs one a booster shot,” Zients told reporters, adding, “Thanks to the aggressive actions we have taken to establish our vaccination program, it will be just as easy and convenient to get a booster shot as it is to get the first shot today. We have enough vaccine supply for every American.”
Zients pointed to the more than 80,000 vaccination sites available to Americans across the country, including 40,000 local pharmacies, pledging, “boosters will be free, regardless of immigration or health insurance status, no ID or insurance required.”
Vaccinated Americans should pursue a vaccination eight months after their second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, per Zients, who told reporters Wednesday the administration will “continue working closely with states, healthcare providers, pharmacies, and national and community-based organizations to ensure Americans know they should get a booster shot eight months after their second shot, and we will be laser focused on getting boosters to long-term care facilities to make sure residents and staff get their shots and are safe and protected.”
12:57 p.m. ET, August 18, 2021
Administration’s Covid-19 booster shot plan prioritizes vulnerable populations, surgeon general says
From CNN's Maegan Vazquez and Jacqueline Howard
The federal government’s Covid-19 booster shot plan prioritizes the most vulnerable populations, US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said on Wednesday, even though the Biden administration has not explicitly said it would limit who can get the additional vaccination when it’s rolled out later this fall.
The White House Covid-19 response team announced that adults should get a booster shot eight months after they receive the second dose of the vaccine and plans to begin rolling out the booster shots in September.
CNN’s Jeremy Diamond asked why the booster shot was not limited to older and more at-risk Americans.
“When we look at the data, we see a reduction in protection against mild to moderate disease across age groups and that was an important part of why we make this recommendation for all adults,” Murthy responded during a press briefing.
He continued, “We want to protect all adults in our country from the worst effects of Covid-19. But our plan does prioritize the most vulnerable. If you look at how we began vaccinating people ... we prioritized health care workers, long-term care facility residents and the elderly. And those are exactly the same populations that we will be starting with.”
12:42 p.m. ET, August 18, 2021
Here's who is is eligible for a Covid-19 booster shot
From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury
Health officials announced that some fully vaccinated US adults will be eligible to receive a Covid-19 booster dose starting in September, during a White House update.
Here are key things to know about the booster dose roll-out and requirements:
Who is eligible for the booster shot? Fully vaccinated adults (18 years and older) who received two doses of an mRNA vaccine will be eligible.
When will people be able to receive an extra dose? Booster doses will be available starting Sept. 20, 2021.
How long after your initial vaccination do you have to wait? The booster dose will be administered to qualifying adults eights months after their second Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccine. For example, if you received your second vaccine dose on Feb. 1, 2021, you would be eligible for a booster Oct. 1, 2021.
What about people who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine? US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said that he anticipates that those who received the J&J vaccine will also need a booster shot, but added that more data should come in the following weeks.
Health officials said the rollout ensures that vulnerable populations — who were first to get initial doses of the vaccine — will be eligible first for the booster shot. This includes health care providers, nursing home residents and other seniors.
Murthy noted that the current roll-out plan is pending on "FDA conducting an independent evaluation of the safety and effectiveness of a third dose of the Pfizer and Modern mRNA vaccines. And the CDC's advisory committee on immunization practices issuing booster dose recommendations ,based on a thorough review of the evidence."
11:52 a.m. ET, August 18, 2021
US officials on vaccines: We don't have to "choose between America and the world"
Asked about the US's booster shot plan in regards to global vaccination efforts, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said the US has a responsibility to do both.
"I do not accept the idea that we have to choose between America and the world. We clearly see our responsibility to both," he said.
"When we see data that is giving us essentially indications that protection is starting to diminish in terms of mild and moderate disease when we recognize that if this trajectory continues, that people who are well protected today may see more vulnerability in the future, we have to act. The science tells us that. Our clinical judgment tells us that, and that was a collective decision of the top public health and medical experts in this administration.
"Again, we will do everything possible to protect people in our country. That's why we're announcing this booster plan, but we will also continue to accelerate our efforts to vaccinate the rest of the world," he added.
Jeff Zients, the White House Covid-19 response coordinator, agreed, saying both global vaccine efforts and protecting Americans are "critical."
"During the coming months, when we talk about booster shots, we expect to give about 100 million boosters in the United States and at the same time we will be donating more than 200 million — twice that number — additional doses, to other countries on our way to donating more than 600 million vaccines," he said.
1:04 p.m. ET, August 18, 2021
200 million Americans will have received a first vaccine dose by days end, White House says
From CNN's Jason Hoffman
Two hundred million Americans will have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine once the vaccination numbers from Wednesday are reported, White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients announced.
Zients touted the increase in the vaccination rate both broadly, and specifically among adolescents as they return to school, as a milestone with nearly seven million Americans receiving their first dose over the past two weeks.
That number is the highest two-week total of first doses administered since the beginning of June, he said, and is accompanied by a 75% increase in the average daily number of 12 to 15-year-olds getting vaccinated.
“Americans across the country are continuing to step up, do their part and get vaccinated,” Zients said at a briefing from the White House Covid-19 response team on Wednesday.
Despite that, Zients warned that cases continue to rise thanks to the Delta variant, especially in communities with a lower vaccination rate.
“We continue to see a rise in cases driven by the more transmissible Delta variant, with cases concentrated in communities with lower vaccination rates. So this remains a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Zients said.
The whole of government response to Covid-19 now sees surge response teams working with 16 states to help them respond to any outbreaks, Zients added.
11:45 a.m. ET, August 18, 2021
Booster shots will be free regardless of if you have insurance, White House official says
Booster Covid-19 vaccines will be free, regardless of immigration or health insurance status, Jeff Zients, the White House Covid-19 response coordinator, said on Wednesday. The official also noted people will not need to bring an ID.
He said because of actions taken to establish the vaccination program, it will be "just as easy and convenient to get a booster shot as it is to get a first shot."
"The bottom line is that we are prepared for boosters, and we will hit the ground running," he added.
When they are eligible, people will be able to get a third dose at about 80,000 places across the country, including 40,000 local pharmacies, Zients said, adding the US has enough vaccine supply for every American.
"In fact, 90% of Americans have a vaccine site within five miles of where they live," Zients said.
1:04 p.m. ET, August 18, 2021
Surgeon general: "The time to lay out a plan for Covid-19 boosters is now"
From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury
US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy outlined the White House's plan to provide Covid-19 booster shots for fully vaccinated Americans. Qualified, fully vaccinated adults will be eligible for their booster shots beginning Sept. 20, he said.
The official said that after reviewing the most current data, they've assessed the time to lay out the plan for boosters "is now."
"The Covid-19 vaccines that are authorized in the United States have been remarkably effective, even against the widespread Delta variant. But we know even highly effective vaccines become less effective over time. Our goal has been to determine when that time might come for the Covid-19 vaccines so we can make a plan to take proactive steps to extend and enhance the protection the vaccines are giving us. Having reviewed the most current data, it is now our clinical judgment, that the time to lay out a plan for Covid-19 boosters is now," Murthy said during an press briefing from the White House Covid-19 response team.
Murthy noted that recent data has shown that vaccine induced protection "against mild and moderate disease has decreased over time."
"This is likely due to both waning immunity and the strength of the widespread Delta variant. Even though this new data affirms that vaccine protection remains high against the worst outcomes of Covid, 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," Murthy added.
Due to those concerns, Murthy said that Covid-19 booster shots will be available for fully vaccinated adults, 18 years and older. Fully vaccinated adults would be eligible for the booster shot eight months after they received their second does of Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines.
"This plan is pending the FDA conducting an independent evaluation of the safety and effectiveness of a third dose of the Pfizer and Modern mRNA vaccines. And the CDC's advisory committee on immunization practices issuing booster dose recommendations ,based on a thorough review of the evidence. The plan ensures that people who were fully vaccinated earliest in the vaccination rollout will be eligible for a booster first. This includes our most vulnerable populations like our health care providers, nursing home residents and other seniors," Murthy added.
The US surgeon general noted that booster shots will also likely be needed for people who initially received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but that they are awaiting more data.