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By Carl O’Donnell and Ahmed Aboulenein (Reuters) – COVID-19 vaccine booster shots will be made widely available to Americans starting on Sept. 20, U.S. health officials said on Wednesday, citing data showing diminishing protection from the initial vaccinations as infections rise from the Delta variant.

U.S. officials will offer a third shot to Americans who received their initial inoculation of two-dose COVID-19 vaccines made by Moderna Inc and by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech AG at least eight months earlier, the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement.

“It’s the best way to protect ourselves from new variants that may arise,” U.S. President Joe Biden told reporters at the White House. “It will make you safer and for longer. It will help end this pandemic faster.”

The U.S. government expects to give out 100 million booster shots for free at around 80,000 locations nationwide, Biden said.

Initial booster doses will be given to Americans who received two-dose vaccines, but officials said they anticipate that people given Johnson & Johnson’s shot, authorized in the United States in February, will also need boosters.

“You want to get out ahead of the virus,” Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, told reporters. “If you wait for something bad to happen before you respond to it, you find you’re considerably behind your real full capability of being responsive.”.. Read More

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