In wealthier countries around the world, conversations and headlines are turning to the question of a COVID-19 vaccine booster: who needs one, when, and how soon people will get it?

But a question not yet being asked enough is what does this mean for global vaccine equity, with billions of people around the world not yet having received their first dose?

As Delta variant cases rise in the US, the White House announced on Wednesday that it is making an official recommendation for COVID-19 vaccine booster shots. The White House, in agreement with health officials and the Department of Health and Human Services, says it is making a preemptive move against controlling infections, citing studies published by the CDC of the efficacy of vaccines over time.

The plan is still pending approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is unusual. Normally the FDA, an independent agency, would approve something before it’s announced by the government.

Some experts have expressed concerns regarding the move to announce additional doses ahead of FDA approval. “In the heat of the moment and when we’re all dealing with a real public health emergency, it becomes almost doubly important that we continually reassess and have the normal processes in place. And I do worry that we've not put the cart before the horse,” said former chief scientist at the FDA, Jesse Goodman.

As countries like the US, the UK, and Germany move forward with their booster plans, the World Health Organization and other experts, health agencies and NGOs are highlighting that the science on the need for boosters at this stage remains unclear and that rolling them out too soon will only serve to exacerbate the already extreme vaccine inequity globally.

So who is being encouraged to get a third shot? Why are extra doses being recommended now? What are the studies supporting these recommendations and ones that don’t? What does a third dose mean for global vaccine equity?

Here’s everything you need to know about COVID-19 booster shots.

Read the full article about COVID-19 booster shots by Kate Nakamura at Global Citizen.