New York Joins Growing Number of States Authorizing a Third COVID-19 Vaccine Shot

New York on Monday became the latest state to authorize the use of a third coronavirus vaccine dose to people with weakened immune systems, following last week's approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC).

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that the state will now offer a third dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to individuals with compromised immune systems.

"Eligible New Yorkers can receive their 3rd dose 28 days after the completion of their two-dose vaccine series, effective immediately," the governor wrote on Twitter.

.@HealthNYGov has authorized a 3rd COVID vaccine dose for New Yorkers with compromised immune systems, following @CDCgov's recommendation.

Eligible New Yorkers can receive their 3rd dose 28 days after the completion of their two-dose vaccine series, effective immediately.

— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) August 16, 2021

New York joins a growing number of states and counties that began offering a third vaccine dose over the weekend, including New Jersey, Washington state, and Los Angeles County.

The announcements come after the FDA and CDC said Thursday that immunocompromised Americans can get an extra dose of either mRNA vaccine as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to surge across the country. The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine was not approved as part of the new measure.

The new recommendation applies to about 3 percent of U.S. adults who are vulnerable to disease due to organ transplants, certain cancers or other disorders.

Federal data suggests people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems do not always build the same level of immunity compared to people who are not immunocompromised. Receiving a third shot of the coronavirus vaccine may allow those vulnerable populations to obtain an extra layer of protection against the virus, according to the FDA.

"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 Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement last week.

New York COVID vaccine
New York on Monday became the latest state to authorize the use of a third COVID-19 shot to people with weakened immune systems. Here, a pharmacy advertises for coronavirus vaccines in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, on July 26, 2021. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

"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."

However, prior to the approval, a CDC database found that more than one million Americans have already received the third dose of either Moderna or Pfizer. Some Americans have even traveled across state lines to receive a third vaccine dose, according to the Associated Press.

According to the new federal guidance, eligible individuals should receive a third dose at least 28 days after dose two and it is recommended that they receive the same vaccine brand as their first two shots.

Though the additional shot is only extended to a small population of the country, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that the U.S. has the capacity to offer a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine "very quickly" to the wider population if necessary.

Fauci said federal health officials are "looking at it on a daily and weekly basis in cohorts, not only in the U.S. but in other countries, to determine if, when and to whom we should be giving this."

The current seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is about 130,000, but healthcare experts have warned that the number of daily cases could soon return to 200,000 a day.

Dr. Benjamin Linas, a professor of medicine at Boston University, told Newsweekthat it is difficult to predict when the latest surge could peak.

"If we continue to press hard on vaccine while also implementing some basic mitigation—masking when indoors and in public—we can end this more quickly. If, however, we fail to implement any form of mitigation or control, the surge could continue. It is not a mystery how to end the Delta surge, but Americans are exhausted and there is little will to take action," he said.