Expect to Get a COVID-19 Booster Shot 8 Months After Your Original Vaccine

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Just days after the Food and Drug Administration authorized COVID-19 vaccine boosters for immunocompromised people, it's been confirmed that a third COVID-19 booster shot will soon be available to most fully vaccinated Americans. Beginning next month, those who received either the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines will be eligible for a booster, the Biden administration announced Wednesday.

Under this plan, a third shot will be administered roughly eight months after an individual received the second dose of their COVID-19 vaccine. The third-shot boosters could be rolled out as early as Sept. 20, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. But before this plan can officially go into effect, the FDA has to authorize the boosters first. Should the FDA give the greenlight, healthcare workers and older folks would be among the first eligible for additional doses, according to the outlet, as well as anyone else who received one of the initial jabs.

"The current protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death could diminish in the months ahead, especially among those who are at higher risk or were vaccinated during the earlier phases of the vaccination rollout," said U.S. health officials Wednesday in a statement. "For that reason, we conclude that a booster shot will be needed to maximize vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability."

When it is time for you to get a booster, you'll get a third dose of the same COVID-19 vaccine you originally received, The Wall Street Journal reported. And while a booster will likely be required for recipients of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, data is still be gathered on the matter, The New York Times reported Monday. (Related: How Effective Is the COVID-19 Vaccine?)

Recently, Pfizer and BioNTech submitted data to the FDA in support of third booster doses. "The data we've seen to date suggest a third dose of our vaccine elicits antibody levels that significantly exceed those seen after the two-dose primary schedule," said Albert Bourla, Chairman and CEO, Pfizer, in a press release Monday. "We are pleased to submit these data to the FDA as we continue working together to address the evolving challenges of this pandemic."

Among the recent challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic? The highly contagious Delta variant, which currently counts for 83.4 percent of cases in the U.S., according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the wake of surging cases, additional mandates — such as showing proof of vaccination — have been implemented in different parts of the country, notably New York City. (Related: How to Show Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination In NYC and Beyond)

Currently, over 198 million Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine while 168.7 million are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. As of last Thursday, the FDA deemed certain people — those with weakened immune systems and recipients of solid organ transplants (such as kidneys, livers, and hearts) — eligible to receive a third shot of either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.

Although wearing masks and social distancing are safe and effective ways to help combat COVID-19, the vaccine itself remains the best bet in not only protecting yourself against the virus but also others as well.

The information in this story is accurate as of press time. As updates about coronavirus COVID-19 continue to evolve, it's possible that some information and recommendations in this story have changed since initial publication. We encourage you to check in regularly with resources such as the CDC, the WHO, and your local public health department for the most up-to-date data and recommendations.