COVID-19 vaccine boosters might be needed before the year's end

The CEOs of Moderna and Pfizer are talking about September for some people.

Jessica Rendall Wellness Writer
Jessica is a writer on the Wellness team with a focus on health news. Before CNET, she worked in local journalism covering public health issues, business and music.
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If you got a Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine early on, you might need a booster before the end of the year, the companies' CEOs said this week.

"The data that I see coming, they are supporting the notion that likely there will be a need for a booster somewhere between eight and 12 months," Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said during an Axios event Wednesday, adding that some Americans might need a booster as early as September or October. Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel told the publication in an email, "I would do [a] September start for those at highest risk."

Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during the event that because protection from coronaviruses usually isn't lifelong, "we will almost certainly require a booster sometime within a year or so" of getting the primary shot.

The first Americans to get coronavirus vaccines after clinical trials were frontline health care workers, who could've received one as early as December. Many older Americans, or people with certain health conditions, may've also received vaccines as early as December or January. 

The Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines are all approved for emergency use in the US. A potential booster for the Johnson & Johnson shot, which differs in its approach from the other vaccines, wasn't discussed at the event. The company has reportedly said its shot will likely need to be given yearly. In a statement Thursday, Johnson & Johnson said it's running trials to determine if and when a booster for its vaccine might be needed.

Last month, Pfizer's Bourla offered different thoughts on his company's vaccine, saying that a Pfizer booster would probably be needed "somewhere between six and 12 months." He also said annual shots might be needed after that. In an emailed statement Thursday, a Pfizer representative said a booster "may be needed at some time in the future ... subject to approval by regulatory authorities."

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says on its website that "the need for and timing of COVID-19 booster doses have not been established" and that "no additional doses are recommended at this time."

As of May 20, 48.2% of the American population has received at least one vaccine dose, and 38.1% is fully vaccinated.

Moderna didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Watch this: More booster shots likely necessary to protect against COVID-19
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.