FRIDAY, Aug. 13, 2021 (HealthDay News) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday authorized a third “booster” shot of coronavirus vaccines for people with weakened immune systems, as the highly contagious delta variant continues to surge across the country.

Expanding the emergency use of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines should help protect those patients who are considered most vulnerable to COVID-19 infection. The authorization includes people who have had solid organ transplants and those whose immune systems are equally compromised, the FDA said.

With the booster dose approved, doctors will now have the leeway to give additional shots to vulnerable patients. About 3 percent of Americans have weakened immune systems for numerous reasons.

“”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, M.D., 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.”

“Other individuals who are fully vaccinated are adequately protected and do not need an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine at this time,” Woodcock added, while noting that the agency was “actively engaged in a science-based, rigorous process with our federal partners to consider whether an additional dose may be needed in the future.”

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