The U.S. will reportedly recommend that COVID booster shots be administered to Americans of any age eight months after they have received their second doses, amid the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.
Two sources told the Associated Press on Tuesday that an announcement on a recommendation for a booster shot is expected to take place this week to offer U.S. residents extra protection against COVID as the pandemic continues.
Federal health officials have been looking at whether an extra shot will be needed for Americans as soon as this fall, with case numbers having risen in several states over the last month and Florida reporting record positive COVID tests and hospitalizations.
The expected announcement would follow a recommendation from health officials in the U.S. last week, advising those with weakened immune systems to get a booster shot due to the higher risk of them catching COVID and the falling effectiveness of the shots over time.
Israel began rolling out COVID booster shots to its older population earlier this month, after health officials reported new data indicating a decline in vaccine protection.
Over one-third of Israel’s older population has received a COVID booster shot, as the country continues to administer additional vaccine doses to counter the spread of the Delta variant.
The extra vaccine doses can only be administered in the U.S. once the shots have been formally approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is expected to take place in the next few weeks.
So far, the vaccines have only been granted emergency authorization by the FDA for use in the country, but they are expected to be formally approved by the end of the year with the Pfizer shot the priority for the designation.
The AP report came just two days after Dr. Francis Collins, the Director of the National Institutes of Health, said during an interview on Sunday that the country is likely to decide whether to recommend booster shots or not within the next two weeks.
“There is a concern that the vaccine may start to wane in its effectiveness. And Delta is a nasty one for us to try to deal with,” Collins said during an interview with Fox News Sunday.
“The combination of those two means we may need boosters, maybe beginning first with health care providers, as well as people in nursing homes, and then gradually moving forward.”
Health care workers, nursing home residents and other vulnerable parts of the population would be the first groups offered the booster, but AP reported that the shot would then be available for all Americans, regardless of their age.
The Delta variant, first identified in India, has been surging in the U.S. over the last month and is now responsible for the vast majority of new COVID cases in the country.
COVID Cases Are Soaring
The current seven-day average of new cases is about 130,000, and Collins warned in the interview on Sunday that the number of daily cases could soon return to 200,000 a day.
The U.S. also recorded a record number of children hospitalized with COVID over the weekend, as 1,900 juveniles were receiving treatment in medical facilities on Saturday after contacting the virus, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services.
Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that at least 198 million people have received one dose of a COVID vaccine, while 168 million are now fully vaccinated against the virus, equating to more than 50 percent of the U.S. population.