Health authorities plan to recommend that Americans receive COVID shots annually as new boosters roll out this month in a shift from the nation’s current vaccination focus.
The new emphasis would be similar to flu shots, according to White House officials on Tuesday.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that, looking forward with the COVID-19 pandemic, in the absence of a dramatically different variant, we likely are moving towards a path with a vaccination cadence similar to that of the annual influenza vaccine, with annual, updated COVID-19 shots matched to the currently circulating strains for most of the population,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said during the White House COVID-19 Response Team and Public Health Officials press briefing on Tuesday.
Fauci noted that some individuals might need more frequent shots.
“Some — particularly vulnerable groups — may continue to need more frequent vaccination against COVID-19,” he added.
White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Ashish Jha also emphasized the annual shots as the new emphasis under the Biden administration.
“Barring any new variant curveball,” Jha said, “for a large majority of Americans, we are moving to a point where a single annual COVID shot should provide a high degree of protection against serious illness all year.”
The CDC has recommended that American adults receive a two-dose shot. A booster shot was recommended six months after the initial vaccination starting in September 2021, followed by a second booster six months later.
Approximately a third of all eligible Americans ages 50 and older have received a second COVID booster, according to the CDC. About half of vaccinated American adults received the first booster, according to the data released last week.
The new announcement comes as Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna were both authorized to offer an updated booster to address the most common subvariants of Omicron.
“The COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters, continue to save countless lives and prevent the most serious outcomes (hospitalization and death) of COVID-19,” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said in a statement. “As we head into fall and begin to spend more time indoors, we strongly encourage anyone who is eligible to consider receiving a booster dose with a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine to provide better protection against currently circulating variants.”
Pfizer’s booster will be available for those 12 years old and older. Moderna’s approval is for those 18 years old and above.
The boosters include the components of the original COVID vaccine along with an mRNA component to target the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of Omicron.
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said he expects the new boosters to be available in the next week or so, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The Daily Wire previously reported that some health professionals are concerned regarding the new FDA approval, as testing in humans has not yet been completed.
“I’m uncomfortable that we would move forward — that we would give millions or tens of millions of doses to people — based on mouse data,” Paul Offit, an FDA adviser and director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told The Wall Street Journal in a report.