Covid-19 boosters for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines will be available in the U.S. beginning in September.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today that Americans 18 years and older who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines will be eligible for a booster shot eight months after their second dose.

"Based on our latest assessment, the current protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death could diminish in the months ahead, especially among those who are at higher risk or were vaccinated during the earlier phases of the vaccination rollout," HHS officials said in a statement. "For that reason, we conclude that a booster shot will be needed to maximize vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability."

"We know that even highly effective vaccines become less effective over time," U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy added at a press conference after the statement was released. "It is our clinical judgment that the time to lay out a plan for Covid boosters is now."

Locally, Sarasota and Manatee counties have seen a surge in Covid-19 cases this month, predominantly in those who are unvaccinated. On Wednesday, Aug. 18, 250 patients at Sarasota Memorial Hospital were hospitalized with Covid-19, up from 239 on Tuesday; of those, 48 are in the ICU. Eighty-nine percent of the 250 patients being treated for Covid at the hospital are unvaccinated.

In Florida, daily Covid case counts average 24,720. In Sarasota County, the average is 340 cases per day, and in Manatee County, the average is 378 cases per day.

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