With the COVID-19 infection rate steadily rising across the country, a growing list of states is now moving in front of federal authorization to recommend booster shots to all residents 18 years or older, six months after receiving their second COVID vaccine dose.
Last week, Pfizer formally asked the Food and Drug Administration to allow all Americans over the age of 18 to be eligible for booster shots.
But in recent weeks, leaders from seven states – Arkansas, California, Colorado, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and West Virginia – have moved to formally and informally support the expansion of booster shots for all adult residents who are at at least six months after their second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
Currently, booster shots are recommended by federal agencies to anyone over the age of 18 who has received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, two months after receiving their first dose. Beneficiaries of Moderna and Pfizer are encouraged to receive a booster injection six months after receiving their second dose if they are over 65 years of age, have an underlying medical condition or are at high risk for exposure.
An official confirmed to ABC News on Tuesday that the FDA may issue guidance as soon as this week on Pfizer and Moderna booster shots for Americans 18 and older.
Earlier this fall, West Virginia’s Governor Jim Justice was the first state legislature to urge all residents, regardless of their age or underlying state status, to receive a booster.
“I think that’s definitely the message I’ve been trying to get out to people,” Justice reiterated on Monday. “I absolutely believe that if you are 18, you can get your booster shot.”
On Monday, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson adjusted the state’s policy recommendations for boosters to the green light for adults, adding that the current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on boosters are “somewhat confusing and limiting.”
Two states – Colorado and New Mexico – which have seen significant increases in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, have gone so far as to sign decrees urging all fully vaccinated adults to get boosters when they meet the six- or six-year-olds. two-month thresholds given the high risk of exposure and transfer in these states.
“We want to ensure that Coloradans have all the tools they need to protect themselves from this deadly virus and to help reduce the stress on our hospitals and healthcare professionals,” wrote Colorado Governor Jared Polis.
Concerns about high transmission have also pushed other officials to hit the trigger on booster shots for all adults.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said Monday that she “strongly urges all New Yorkers living or working in high-risk environments to get the booster,” and in New York City, Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi during a news conference on Monday that he is issuing a commissioner’s advice to all health providers to allow boosters for all adults.
Last week, in California, the Secretary of Health, Dr. Mark Ghaly also said he urged residents to “absolutely” sign up to get a booster shot.
With winter vacations just weeks away and millions of Americans expected to travel and gather with family members, some officials say the expansion of boosters is now more critical than ever.
“We believe this is a big step we can take with the holidays approaching. We need as many people boosted as possible. It’s that simple,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday during a news conference.
Murphy signaled that he would probably formally support boosters for all adults, adding that “if in doubt, get the damn booster.”
In September, vaccine experts advising the federal government rejected President Joe Biden’s plan to roll out boosters to all Americans.
Chief Medical Adviser to the White House, Dr. Anthony Fauci, however, suggested earlier this month that boosters for all adults may be unavoidable.
“Looking back on this, you can say, you know, it’s not like a booster is a bonus, but a booster can actually be an essential part of the primary cure that people should have,” Fauci said. New York Times.
Other health experts have continued to express concern about the extension of boosters to all adults, suggesting that the most critical step will still be to vaccinate those who have not yet received a COVID-19 shot.
“I think people need to be reassured that these vaccines continue to work and work well,” says Dr. Paul Offit, Advisor to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “If we are to get on top of this pandemic, the best way to do it is to vaccinate the unvaccinated. And until we do, we will not really move the needle on this pandemic.”
To date, more than 30 million people nationwide have received an extra dose of a COVID-19 vaccine since early August, according to federal data.
ABC News’ Eric Strauss contributed to this report.