The US Food and Drug Administration could authorize Pfizer’s COVID-19 booster shot for all adults as early as Thursday, The New York Times reported Tuesday. That would mean any adult who got a second dose of the vaccine at least six months prior could be eligible to get the third shot as soon as this weekend, if regulators sign off on the move.
The FDA didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its vaccine advisory committee will still need to sign off on the boosters before they become available to all Americans. The committee has a meeting scheduled for Friday to discuss the booster dose, according to The Times. The CDC didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
In September, the FDA approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 booster shot for adults who are 65 and older or at-risk. The CDC then approved Pfizer’s booster shot for those Americans. Last month, the FDA also greenlit Moderna’s COVID-19 booster shot for adults 65 and older or at-risk, as well as Johnson & Johnson’s COVID booster for adults 18 and older.
Additionally, the FDA last month approved the option for eligible people to “mix and match” vaccines when getting their booster, meaning someone who got one kind of vaccine for the initial dose could get a booster shot of a different vaccine.
Last week, Pfizer asked the FDA for approval of its booster shot for anyone 18 and older. In the meantime, states such as California, Colorado and New Mexico have already authorized all adults to receive the extra vaccine.
Multiple studies show that vaccine effectiveness could start to drop after six to eight months. Recent studies say a booster dose of Pfizer shows 95.6% vaccine efficacy against COVID-19.
The COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing hospitalization and deaths. More than 99% of COVID deaths are of unvaccinated people, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical advisor, told CBS in early July. And people who aren’t fully vaccinated were more than 10 times more likely to be hospitalized and 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19 in the spring and summer, compared with those who are fully vaccinated, The Washington Post reported. Over 58% of the US population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the CDC.
While boosters could provide added protection to millions of Americans, only around 4.6% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.