CDC: More Than 1 Million Have Received Unauthorized Third Dose

Carolyn Crist

August 12, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

Aug. 12, 2021 ― More than 1 million people have already received a third shot of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which isn't yet authorized by the FDA, according to ABC News.

The estimate of 1.1 million third shots is likely an undercount, according to an internal CDC document obtained by ABC News. The number includes people who received the two-shot Moderna and Pfizer vaccines and then received another dose, but it doesn't count people who may have received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine and then received a second dose of either Moderna or Pfizer vaccines.

Florida, Ohio, California, Illinois, and Tennessee have reported the highest number of people who received an unauthorized third shot, ABC News reported.

CDC authorities haven't determined whether people who received a third shot did so through the advice of their doctor, ABC News reported. The FDA hasn't authorized a booster shot yet, though some doctors have encouraged severely immunocompromised patients to get one.

The FDA is expected to authorize a third shot for those with compromised immune systems within days. On Thursday or Friday, the agency could amend its emergency use authorization to make the change.

The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will also meet on Friday to discuss additional doses for immunocompromised people, according to the committee's meeting agenda. The group will discuss overall "considerations for booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines" as well.

At an ACIP meeting in late July, committee members expressed concerns about those with weak immune systems and discussed the need for some people to receive a third shot for full COVID-19 protection. The committee can't recommend a booster shot until the FDA gives full approval to a vaccine or amends its current emergency use authorization.

Camille Kotton, MD, a committee member and transplant medicine doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital, said in July that some patients had "taken matters into their own hands" and already sought out additional doses without a doctor's supervision. She also raised concerns about equity, with some patients receiving a third shot while others remain unprotected.

"I have major concerns about equity because, from my experience, I have noted that it is patients who tend to be more educated and more empowered to take care of their own health care who are getting these additional doses," she said. "I worry that some are being left behind."


ABC News: "At least 1 million people got unauthorized third booster shot."

CDC: "Meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices," Aug. 13, 2021.