The US Food and Drug Administration authorized a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for immunocompromised people, such as solid organ transplant recipients, the agency announced Thursday.
“The country has entered yet another wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the FDA is especially cognizant that immunocompromised people are particularly at risk for severe disease,” Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, said in a statement. “After a thorough review of the available data, the FDA determined that this small, vulnerable group may benefit from a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna Vaccines.” The New York Times reported that an estimated 3 percent of Americans would fall under this designation for a variety of reasons.
Woodcock said non-immunocompromised people who are full vaccinated “are adequately protected and do not need an additional dose” at this time, but that the FDA is “actively engaged in a science-based, rigorous process with our federal partners to consider whether an additional dose may be needed in the future.”
The news comes as the Delta variant of COVID-19 makes its march through communities across the country, and hospitals in places such as Texas and Florida reach or exceed covid-related hospitalization rates not seen since last fall. The Florida Hospital Association reported earlier this week that 68 percent of hospitals there expect to reach a “critical staffing shortage,” the Palm Beach Post reported Friday, with pre-pandemic medical staff shortages having been exacerbated by the pandemic. That, combined with the recent surge in cases, has “dozens” of hospitals there stopping elective surgeries, the paper reported.
Since the start of the pandemic last year, over 619,000 Americans have died from the disease. As the Delta variant spreads throughout the country, the US is now averaging an additional 616 deaths per day as of August 12, a 92 percent increase from two weeks ago. Cases have also rose precipitously, averaging 125,894 per day, a 76 percent increase. And while increases in cases are more worrisome in areas of the country with lower vaccination rates, as Delta rages areas of the country that were successfully on getting their populations vaccinated are also becoming hotspots for infection.