Pfizer booster shots were conducted and carried out in San Rafael, Calif. Photo: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that the vaccine’s protection against COVID-19 can decrease over time and is less likely to protect against the Delta variant. Although the various vaccines remain valid against hospitalizations and deaths, the support against infection with the virus has weakened. This decrease in effectiveness is most likely due to a combination of waning immunity (increase in time creates a decrease in effectiveness), a lapse in precautions such as wearing masks and the increasing infectiousness of the Delta variant. ​​“You want to stay ahead of the virus. … You don’t want to find yourself behind, playing catch-up,” said White House medical adviser Anthony S. Fauci.

As a result, this further protective booster shot was created for Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine recipients that exist in at least one of the following categories: older adults and 50-64 year old people with medical conditions, long-term care facility residents aged 18 years and older, people with medical conditions aged 18-49 years or employees and residents at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission. “The new studies indicate overall that vaccines have an effectiveness of roughly 55% against all infections, 80% against symptomatic infection, and 90% or higher against hospitalization,” said public health researcher at Boston University Ellie Murray. 

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website, on Sept. 22, 2021, the FDA “amended the emergency use authorization” to allow for use of a single booster dose (for those eligible) at least six months after receiving the second dose of the vaccine. On Sept. 23, 2021, CDC’s advisory panel mirrored this decision, yet voted against the authorization of booster shots to those whose jobs put them at risk of infection. But later that day, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky overruled the panel’s decision and recommended booster shots for front-line workers. 

As stated in The Washington Post, booster shots will be distributed to a wide range of facilities across the country. About 70% of vaccine doses are being given to these facilities including pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens, in which customers are not required to obtain a prescription or letter from their doctor. 

But the conversation and decisions made around booster shots came with controversy. People within the global public health community criticized the offering of booster shots to wealthy countries as poorer nations struggled to provide their citizens with the first doses of the vaccine. Following these concerns, President Biden announced the decision to purchase 500 million more doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to then distribute to countries in need, raising the number of vaccine doses to 1.1 billion. 

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