US approves extra COVID-19 vaccine dose for people with weakened immunity

The US FDA has stated that the additional vaccine dose of Pfizer and Moderna will be administered to organ transplant recipients or those with equivalent weakened immune systems such as people with certain cancers or disorders. 

Created On: Aug 13, 2021 16:24 IST
Pfizer
Pfizer

The United States on August 12, 2021 authorized an extra dose of Covid vaccine for people with weakened immune systems. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulator granted emergency use authorisation for the third vaccine dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

This comes as the United States is witnessing a surge in Delta variant cases. Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said that the United States has entered yet another wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. The FDA has noted that immunocompromised people are particularly at risk for severe disease in the wake of Delta variant spread. 

Who will receive the additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine?

The US FDA has stated that the additional vaccine dose of Pfizer and Moderna will be administered to organ transplant recipients or those with equivalent weakened immune systems such as people with certain cancers or disorders. 

Will all vaccinated individuals require the additional vaccine dose?

As per Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, those individuals who are fully vaccinated are adequately protected and do not need an additional dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at this time.

When will the additional vaccine dose be given?

Those with compromised immunity will receive the third dose of the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna roughly 28 days after getting their second shot. 

What about those who have received a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

The FDA has made no mention of those people with weakened immunity who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. They will not be getting the additional vaccine dose as of now. 

Why is the additional vaccine dose required?

•As per US health authorities, it is harder for vaccines to work on an immune system suppressed by certain medications and diseases hence, those patients don't always get the same protection as otherwise healthy people. 

•Hence, the extra has been allowed to boost immunity in certain immunocompromised individuals who need extra protection from COVID-19.

•This comes amid ongoing debate among the US health authorities whether a third vaccine dose may be required.

•Around one million Americans may have had unauthorised third doses in an attempt to increase protection against Covid, as per US media. 

•This comes after several countries, including France and Israel, made similar recommendations. Small studies also suggest that an extra dose may be a solution for at least some people. 

Israel approves COVID-19 booster shots

•Israel recently became the first country to approve booster shots of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for those with a compromised immune system. This means that those with pre-existing medical conditions such as those who have recently undergone an organ transplant can receive a third shot of the vaccine to increase their protection against COVID-19. 

•France and Germany have also recommended a third dose of the two-dose vaccines for organ transplant recipients, dialysis patients and those on strong immunosuppressant medication.

Background

The United States has approved the additional vaccine dose of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at a time when there is a surge of the extra-contagious delta variant of COVID-19 in the country. The mutant version of the coronavirus has pushed up cases in the nation yet again, lead to a major surge in hospitalizations and deaths.

The US FDA's decision of the extra dose will only apply to the high-risk group, which is estimated to be no more than 3 percent of US adults. It is not the same as the booster that has been in consideration for the general population.

Over 619,000 people have died due to COVID-19 in the United States and the case numbers are rising sharply again in recent months due to the spread of the Delta variant, going up to a daily average of more than 100,000 cases, a level not seen since last year's surge.

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