Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci warned during a press briefing on Thursday that a booster shot will be required for everyone “sooner or later” to ensure that the durability of protection from COVID-19 vaccines continues.
“As we mentioned, we are evaluating this on a day by day, week by week, month by month basis, looking at any of a number of studies, both international and domestic studies,” Fauci continued. “If the data shows us that, in fact, we do need to do that, we’ll be very ready to do it and do it expeditiously.”
Apart from the immunocompromised, who represent about 2.7% of the U.S. adult population but make up about 44% of hospitalized COVID-19 breakthrough cases, according to the CDC, Fauci said that most people will not need a booster shot immediately.
However, he noted it is a “dynamic process” that could change during the ongoing evaluation of data.
While there is no definitive evidence that the delta variant is more severe in children, Fauci emphasized that since it has been determined to be a more infectious strain, it is “likely” that more children may end up in the hospital with severe disease.
As the economy continues to reopen and children return to the classroom in the fall, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky emphasized that the best way to keep children safe is to vaccinate everyone around them who can be vaccinated and to follow COVID-19 mitigation strategies, such as masking in schools.
The new warnings come as the delta variant has spread to at least 117 countries, including the United States.
Both Pfizer and Moderna have acknowledged that everyone will eventually need a booster shot and potentially extra doses of their COVID-19 vaccines each year, similar to the flu. Walensky noted that the Food and Drug Administration is working with the drugmakers to authorize a booster shot for certain immunocompromised individuals.
Following the FDA’s decision, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet on Friday to discuss both the booster doses and additional doses of COVID-19 vaccines and offer recommendations.
“We look forward to that discussion and to help and support this vulnerable population,” Walensky added.
According to the latest CDC data, more than 167.1 million people, or 61.3% of U.S. adults, are fully vaccinated to date, while more than 196 million people, or 71.3% of adults, have received at least one dose.