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A health care worker fills a syringe with Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a community vaccination event in Los Angeles. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration will update its emergency use authorization for the Pfizer and Moderna coronavirus vaccines as early as Thursday to allow immunocompromised people to get a third dose, a source familiar with the matter told Axios.

Why it matters: Data suggest that people with weakened immune systems don't generate strong enough levels of protection against the virus with just two doses, but a third dose could significantly help.

The big picture: Scientists have debated who should receive booster shots and when, as the highly contagious Delta variant drives up the number of new cases across the country.

  • About 2.7% of U.S. adults are immunocompromised, a group that encompasses people that are undergoing cancer treatment, living with HIV, or are organ transplant recipients, among others, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • More than 1 million people in the U.S. have received unauthorized booster shots of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines according to an internal CDC briefing document obtained by ABC News.

State of play: In July, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged action on additional doses for immunocompromised people, per NBC News.

  • In July, Israel became the first country to offer booster shots for immunocompromised people and seniors.
  • Germany and the U.K. have also announced they plan to offer boosters starting September.
  • Yes, but: The World Health Organization has called for a moratorium on booster shots through at least September to allow for poorer countries to have access to doses.

What to watch: The ACIP will meet Friday to make recommendations on booster shots of the immunocompromised.

Go deeper: The CDC's booster messaging mess

Go deeper

20 hours ago - World

Biden to push vaccine-sharing at UN, but boosters at home

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

President Biden will convene world leaders on Wednesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to push them to do more to end the pandemic — though he's also facing criticism for prioritizing boosters at home.

Why it matters: There is still no functional plan in place to vaccinate the world, and past summits of this sort have flopped. The White House hopes that this virtual gathering will produce ambitious promises, accountability measures to track progress, and ultimately help achieve a 70% global vaccination rate this time next year.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Biden to get booster shot on camera — Pfizer vaccine safe, effective in children, company says — The booster vaccine discussion is far from over.
  2. Health: Study: Pandemic cut U.S. life expectancy by more than 9 million years — U.S. death toll surpasses 1918 flu fatalities — Chicago has highest case rates in city worker neighborhoods.
  3. Politics: Biden to push vaccine-sharing at UN, but boosters at home — Rep. Tim Ryan tests positive — Biden administration to lift travel ban for fully vaccinated international travelers.
  4. Education: D.C. schools to require teachers, staff to receive vaccine without testing option — More schools using "test-to-stay" strategy to minimize quarantines.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Sep 20, 2021 - Health

Biden administration to lift travel ban for fully vaccinated international travelers

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients announced on Monday that the Biden administration will allow fully vaccinated travelers from around the world to enter the U.S. beginning in November.

Why it matters: The announcement comes as President Biden seeks commitments from countries to donate vaccines to the global COVAX initiative. He is expected to host a COVID summit on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly this week, and many of the countries attending have expressed frustration with the travel ban.