WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- The Food and Drug Administration wants to make COVID-19 vaccine shots more like the annual flu shot.
- U.S. health officials on Monday proposed once-a-year Covid shots for most adults and children to protect against the mutating virus.
- For immunocompromised adults and very young children, a two-dose combination may be needed for protection.
The Food and Drug Administration on Monday proposed once-a-year COVID-19 shots for most Americans. U.S. health officials see this as a simplified approach for future vaccination efforts and protection against the mutating virus.
If approved, Americans would no longer have to monitor how many shots they had or how many months it’s been since their last vaccine.
More than 80% of Americans have had at least one vaccine dose, and only 16% have received the latest boosters authorized in August.
The FDA will consult its panel of outside vaccine experts at a meeting on Thursday. The agency is expected to take the panel’s advice into consideration while deciding future vaccine requirements for manufacturers.
In documents posted online, FDA scientists say many Americans now have “sufficient preexisting immunity” against the coronavirus because of vaccination, infection or a combination of the two. That baseline of protection should be enough to move to an annual booster against the latest strains in circulation and make COVID-19 vaccinations more like the yearly flu shot, according to the agency.
A two-dose combination may be needed for the protection of immunocompromised adults and very small children, according to FDA scientists. Vaccine companies would need additional research on vaccination, infection rates, and other data to come up with who should receive a single shot versus a two-dose series.
The FDA outside panel will vote on whether all vaccines should target the same strains.
In 2020, the initial shots or the primary series from Pfizer and Moderna target the Alpha strain. The updated boosters introduced in October last year were also tweaked to target the dominant omicron strain.
The FDA’s proposal will make the agency, independent experts and manufacturers decide yearly on which strains to target by the early summer. This will allow manufacturers several months to produce and launch updated shots before the fall, similar to the way strains for flu vaccines are changed annually.
Source: Associated Press