Nursing home facility residents and healthcare workers are likely to be the first recipients in a federal COVID-19 vaccine booster rollout that could begin early this fall, sources have told a major news outlet.

The Biden administration has secured at least 100 million vaccine doses as part of a strategy to provide additional shots to fully vaccinated priority groups, The New York Times reported Saturday. 

Image of Rochelle Walensky, M.D.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky

The news came shortly after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved additional shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems. Approximately 3% of Americans fit that description, including individuals with solid organ transplants or who have an equivalent level of weakened immune response, the agency said. 

The Food and Drug Administration has extended emergency use authorization for the two vaccines for this purpose. The new third-dose approval does not apply to people who are not immunocompromised. 

Booster delivery logistics can’t wait

Data is lacking on how urgently an extra dose is needed in long-term care settings at this time and just how protective they might be, geriatricians have told McKnight’s Clinical Daily. Increasing vaccine uptake is the most effective route to reducing viral transmission, they said. 

In fact, federal scientists are reviewing the performance of COVID-19 vaccine performance over time in select high-risk groups, the CDC has reported. But Biden administration officials said that the logistics of getting additional shots to millions must be in place before the vaccines start to become less effective, The New York Times reported. 

Unauthorized shots

In the meantime, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at least 1 million Americans have already taken matters into their own hands and gotten an unauthorized third Pfizer or Moderna shots, according to internal documents reviewed by ABC News.

It is not clear if these unauthorized booster shots were cleared by a physician, ABC reported. States that logged the highest number of third shots, in order, were Florida, Ohio, California, Illinois and Tennessee, the news outlet noted.

Infections traced to the highly contagious SARS-CoV-2 delta gene variant, mostly among the unvaccinated, have reversed some of the gains made since vaccines were given emergency approval earlier in the year. There have been new outbreaks and breakthrough infections reported in long-term care facilities, and hospitals in some states are again at capacity with COVID-19 patients. 

The new CDC recommendation to begin offering extra vaccine doses to the immunocompromised “is an important step in ensuring everyone, including those most vulnerable to COVID-19, can get as much protection as possible from COVID-19 vaccination,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, M.D., MPH., in a Friday statement.