Important COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots Update

August 23, 2021

Booster Shots Anticipated for General Population
The White House announced today that planning is underway to support booster shots for the general population who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Boosters will be available pending authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). NCDHHS is preparing for boosters and will be ready once given the go-ahead from the FDA and CDC.

Please see the full statement from US HHS, indicating preparation to offer booster shots for the general population beginning potentially as early as the week of September 20 and starting eight (8) months after an individual’s second dose pending FDA authorization and CDC recommendation.
Why COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots?
The COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States continue to be remarkably effective in reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant. Although we continue to see stable and highly effective protection against hospitalizations and severe outcomes for people who are fully vaccinated, we are seeing a decrease in vaccine effectiveness against infection.
The CDC released three Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (MMWR) today that reinforced the high level of stable protection and vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization, but did show  a decreased vaccine effectiveness preventing infection. Those reports are available on the CDC’s website.
We have developed a plan to begin offering these booster shots this fall subject to FDA conducting an independent evaluation and determination of the safety and effectiveness of a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines and CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) issuing booster dose recommendations based on a thorough review of the evidence. Only after a thorough review of the evidence will CDC’s independent advisory committee make recommendations on the use of boosters for the public.
Booster Shot vs. Additional Dose
A booster is administered when the initial sufficient immune response to a primary vaccine series is likely to have waned over time. No booster doses are recommended at this time, until further guidance is provided by the FDA and CDC.
An additional dose is administered when the immune response following a primary vaccine series is likely to be insufficient. An additional mRNA COVID-19 vaccine dose has already been authorized by the FDA and recommended by the CDC for moderately to severely immunocompromised people after an initial 2-dose primary mRNA vaccine series. You may administer an additional dose to patients who self-attest to being moderately to severely immunocompromised. Please reference vaccineinfo communications from August 17 for detailed operational guidance.
Many of you joined our provider webinar today, with a key topic of discussion being third dose/additional dose for the moderately to severely immunocompromised. Please see that slide deck here, which is inclusive of additional dose resources and guidance, among other topics.

We greatly appreciate your tireless work and patience as we continue to find the safest and most effective ways to beat COVID-19.

Thank you for your continued support,   
NC Department of Health and Human Services