The approval comes as the highly transmissible Delta variant surges through much of the U.S.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized a third dose of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna for people with compromised immune systems. People who have undergone an organ transplant, as well as those who have certain malignancies or other disorders with a similar level of compromised immunity, will be able to get an extra dose under the amended emergency use authorization. “Today’s action allows doctors to boost immunity in certain immunocompromised individuals who need extra protection from COVID-19,” Acting FDA Commissioner Dr Janet Woodcock said. She added, “Other individuals who are fully vaccinated are adequately protected and do not need an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine at this time,” she added while noting that the agency is studying if an additional dose for the general population may be needed in the future.
The announcement comes as a much-anticipated action aimed at protecting some of the country's most vulnerable citizens from the highly contagious Delta strain which has seen a surge in new infections, hospitalizations and deaths. According to the FDA’s announcement, eligible recipients will be able to receive a third vaccine dose at least 28 days after getting their second shot. In addition to the FDA green light, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expected to formally recommend the extra shot for immunocompromised groups following a meeting held on Friday of its advisers. If approved, it is expected that the third shot will be rolled out immediately. According to the CDC’s estimates about 2.7% of U.S. adults could be eligible for the booster shot.