US to Advise Booster Shots for Most Americans 8 Months After Vaccination
Before vaccinating health care workers, Dr. Orlowski said, hospitals will want data about side effects from booster shots, so they can know how to stagger vaccinations among their staff without hurting their ability to care for patients. “You can’t do the whole I.C.U. at the same time,” she said, “because you don’t want everyone getting fever and chills.”
In interviews on Tuesday, hospital officials and doctors generally supported the push for booster shots. Unlike the vaccination campaign that began last winter, they said, this time there will be enough doses to go around, which should make things move more smoothly.
“I think we’re running out of second chances,” said Dr. Matthew Harris, the medical director of the coronavirus vaccination program at Northwell Health, New York’s largest hospital system. “What keeps me up at night is the inevitability of a variant that is not responsive to the vaccine, so if this is how we stay ahead of it, I fully support it.”
Dr. Danny Avula, Virginia’s vaccine coordinator, said his state has thousands of vaccine providers in place and can likely manage boosters without much change. “What caused so much of the urgency and frenzy of January through April was the limitations in supply,” he said. “I think it will be a very different rollout for booster than it was for the initial shots.”
The booster strategy has been under discussion for several weeks, but a consensus about how to proceed was reached in meetings only this weekend. Officials said senior health officials all endorsed it, including the surgeon general, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, and the leaders of the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The administration has more than 100 million doses stockpiled that could be used for boosters, plus the tens of millions more in freezers at pharmacies and other locations. The administration has purchased still more supply scheduled for delivery this fall, and officials say they are not worried about running out.
Federal health officials have been particularly concerned about data from Israel suggesting that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine’s protection against severe disease has fallen significantly for elderly people who got their second shot in January or February.