RICHMOND, Va. -- Local health leaders are welcoming a move announced on Wednesday to administer booster shots for the COVID-19 vaccine.
On Wednesday, federal health leaders announced the need for booster shots. Pending approval from several agencies like the FDA, the shots could start by September 20 for those who got either two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
"When I'm eligible, I will roll up my sleeve happily with a smile on my face," Dr. Michael Stevens, Interim Hospital Epidemiologist at VCU Health, said.
Stevens speaks to the near future when booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccines could start going into arms across the US.
"Because this is the best thing we can do to protect ourselves and to protect the people around us," Stevens said.
As the more contagious Delta variant continues to spread, officials say data shows the vaccine's effectiveness at preventing mild to moderate infections is decreasing and they anticipate protection against more serious cases to wane in the coming months.
"The organizations, the CDC and others want to get ahead of any significant loss in effectiveness of the vaccines. So, they're still wildly effective," Stevens said.
People could be eligible for a third dose eight months after their second, putting healthcare workers like Stevens and longtime care residents like Jim Meharg first in line.
"To hear that it loses its effectiveness is kind of disappointing. Plus, we thought it was going to be a little longer lived, you know," Meharg said.
Meharg said that he and his partner got their second shot in early February and adds that he wants to see what the review agencies have to say before making a decision.
"We'll look for some discussion on it, but I'll think we'll be ready to take it if all things being equal it seems like it's the thing to do," Meharg said.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said that Virginia will be ready for administering the boosters when the time comes.
"The infrastructure is in place, whether that be through the pharmacies, the providers, we'll have all the vaccination clinics across Virginia. We're going to be prepared for this. We want to keep Virginians safe," Northam said.
Federal officials added on Wednesday that they expect booster shots will also be needed for people who got the single-dose Johnson&Johnson vaccine. However, they said that at this time, they don't have enough data to issue that guidance.
They said they anticipate to be able to share guidance in the coming weeks.