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Reports: FDA to authorize COVID vaccine booster shot for immunocompromised

An announcement could come as soon as Thursday that will authorize a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to those with weakened immune systems.

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines as a booster for people with compromised immune systems, according to multiple reports.

CNN reported Wednesday that an announcement was expected within 48 hours, citing a source familiar with the discussions. NBC News said the announcement would come Thursday, citing two sources.

A panel of advisors to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention met last month and urged extra doses for immunocompromised adults, NBC News reported.

There was no mention in either report about a booster shot for those who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. That one is a one-dose treatment while Pfizer and Moderna require two doses.

About 3% of U.S. adults have weakened immune systems. Among them are people with HIV or AIDS, transplant recipients, some cancer patients and people with autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and lupus.

COVID-19 shots weren’t studied in large numbers of people with weak immune systems. But limited data and experience with flu and pneumonia vaccines suggest they won’t work as well as they do in others. That means people with weakened immune systems should keep taking precautions like wearing masks and avoiding large crowds.

French guidelines already recommend a third COVID-19 dose for the immunocompromised, including organ recipients. Israel recently began giving an extra dose of the Pfizer vaccine to transplant patients and others with weak immune systems. Some U.S. transplant recipients seek out a third dose on their own in hopes of more protection even though the federal government hasn't authorized extra vaccinations.

ABC News, citing an internal CDC document, reports that an estimated 1.1 million people who have received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine have gone back for an unauthorized third booster shot. Florida, Ohio, California, Illinois and Tennessee are the states with the most people seeking a third dose.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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