Would it be easier to get one yearly COVID-19 vaccine instead of continuous booster shots?
The Food and Drug Administration seems to think so. The agency recently proposed a switch to an annual immunization against COVID-19 to replace the various booster shots, which help protect against variants of the virus.
“All things COVID [have] been complicated, and I think what the FDA is finally hearing is to get more traction with vaccines … you need to make it easier and simpler,” Dr. David Wohl, an infectious disease specialist with the UNC School of Medicine, told ABC 11. “So I think there’s a lot of value in trying to make a schedule that everyone can understand and buy into as much as possible.”
According to the FDA, the yearly shot may be given at the same time as the flu vaccine.
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“COVID has been very disruptive for both individuals and communities,” Neil Maniar, with Northeastern University’s Bouvé College of Health Sciences, told Northeastern Global News. “This schedule will provide another opportunity to help us navigate and co-exist with COVID in a way that buffers the disruption and keeps people healthy.”
The push for an annual vaccine was discussed at an FDA panel on Jan. 26, during which the vaccine advisory committee voted to update the first two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to match the current booster shots.
This is due to the fact that the original strand of COVID-19, which is covered by the first two vaccine doses, has been overtaken by mutated strands. The current variants are covered only by the booster formula.
Approximately 70% of Americans have received the first round of COVID-19 shots, the CDC reports, but only four in 10 older adults have gotten the updated booster. Updating the current vaccines aims to encourage more people to get vaccinated by simplifying the process.
Updating the current vaccines aims to encourage more people to get vaccinated by simplifying the process.
“It will simplify things for people who are administering the vaccine and will probably lead to less wastage of the vaccine because you don’t have to stock two versions of it,” Dr. James Cutrell, associate professor of medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center’s Division of Infectious Diseases and Geographic Medicine, told Healthline.
If the FDA signs off on the committee’s recommendation, brands like Moderna, Pfizer and Novavax – makers of the original vaccine – will have to update their formula. This would mean that the formula for all COVID-19 vaccines will be the same.