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On Thursday, the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee Meeting will meet to discuss various steps with regard to COVID vaccinations.
In a briefing document regarding the meeting, the FDA said that it is hoping the committee will think about several items, including making the immunization schedule easier by giving specific kids, immunocompromised people, and older people two shots, but only one to other people. It also wants the panel to think about making a system for vaccination recommendations akin to the way the flu shot is handled every year.
The document pointed out that the mRNA bivalent booster shots’ rollout “has been associated with significant implementation complexities,” adding that because of this and other available information, “a move to a single vaccine composition for primary and booster vaccinations should be considered.”
Most people might only need to get one shot to be protected for a certain time, due to what is known about vaccination and previous exposure to the virus, the document stated. It also said that young people who may not have been exposed to COVID, as well as older people and those with compromised immune systems, might need to get two.
It also noted that the agency expects to carry out a review of “SARS-CoV-2 strains” at least every year and to ask the panel around June of every year about “strain selection for the fall season.” Then, a recommendation for the vaccine composition would be chosen and created to be ready by the fall — “no later than September of each calendar year.”
The numbers seem to imply that the COVID booster shots were not entirely popular last year.
A Morning Consult report from December showed that 53% of American adults were going to get a booster in the year to come, but that was a decrease of 5% since a similar poll from September. In addition, 47% of vaccinated American adults who didn’t get a booster in the fall said they weren’t going to get the new bivalent booster.
Over 40% of those who hadn’t gotten the bivalent booster for Omicron also said a reason they didn’t get it was that they didn’t understand a point in getting an additional shot on top of other COVID vaccines. A similar percentage listed not being concerned about getting COVID anymore as a reason to not get another shot.
Interest in getting the booster last year was slow to start, as well. Only 3.6% of eligible individuals had gotten the updated booster in the early weeks of its availability.
The most recent data published by the CDC showed that only 15.3% of the entire United States population has gotten the bivalent booster dose.