US Proposes Once-a-Year COVID Shots for Most Americans

January 23, 2023by Matthew Perrone, Associated Press Health Writer
US Proposes Once-a-Year COVID Shots for Most Americans
A nurse prepares a syringe of a COVID-19 vaccine at an inoculation station in Jackson, Miss., July 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. health officials want to make COVID-19 vaccinations more like the annual flu shot.

The Food and Drug Administration on Monday proposed a simplified approach for future vaccination efforts, allowing most adults and children to get a once-a-year shot to protect against the mutating virus.

This means Americans would no longer have to keep track of how many shots they’ve received or how many months it’s been since their last booster.

The proposal comes as boosters have become a hard sell. While more than 80% of the U.S. population has had at least one vaccine dose, only 16% of those eligible have received the latest boosters authorized in August.

The FDA will ask its panel of outside vaccine experts to weigh in at a meeting Thursday. The agency is expected to take their advice into consideration while deciding future vaccine requirements for vaccine makers.

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.

For adults with weakened immune systems and very small children, a two-dose combination may be needed for protection. FDA scientists and vaccine companies would study vaccination, infection rates and other data to decide who should receive a single shot versus a two-dose series.

FDA will also seek input on switching all vaccines to target the same strains. That step would be needed to make the shots interchangeable, doing away with the current complicated system of primary vaccinations and boosters.

The initial shots from Pfizer and Moderna — called the primary series — target the strain of the virus that first emerged in 2020 and quickly swept across the world. The updated boosters launched last fall were also tweaked to target omicron relatives that had been dominant.

Under FDA’s proposal, the agency, independent experts and manufacturers would decide annually on which strains to target by the early summer, allowing several months to produce and launch updated shots before the fall. That’s roughly the same approach long used to select the strains for the annual flu shot.

Ultimately, FDA officials say moving to an annual schedule would make it easier to promote future vaccination campaigns, which could ultimately boost vaccination rates nationwide.

The original two-dose COVID shots have offered strong protection against severe disease and death no matter the variant, but protection against mild infection wanes. Experts continue to debate whether the latest round of boosters significantly enhanced protection, particularly for younger, healthy Americans.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

A+
a-
  • vaccination
  • In The News

    Health

    Voting

    Health

    By Defining Sex, Some States Denying Transgender People Legal Recognition

    TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Mack Allen, an 18-year-old high school senior from Kansas, braces for sideways glances, questioning looks and... Read More

    TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Mack Allen, an 18-year-old high school senior from Kansas, braces for sideways glances, questioning looks and snide comments whenever he has to hand over his driver's license, which still identifies him as female. They've come from a police officer responding to a... Read More

    Facing Backlash Over IVF Ruling, Alabama Lawmakers Look for a Fix

    MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Lawmakers began scrambling for ways to protect Alabama in vitro fertilization services after multiple providers paused treatment in... Read More

    MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Lawmakers began scrambling for ways to protect Alabama in vitro fertilization services after multiple providers paused treatment in the wake of a state Supreme Court ruling that frozen embryos could be considered children under a state law. Facing a wave of shock and anger... Read More

    February 26, 2024
    by Jesse Zucker
    Try Heat Therapy to Warm Up This Winter

    WASHINGTON —  As we near the end of February, have you gotten tired of being cold yet? While you wait... Read More

    WASHINGTON —  As we near the end of February, have you gotten tired of being cold yet? While you wait for spring, heat therapy may be just what you need to warm up. If you’ve ever been to a sauna or steam room at a spa... Read More

    February 26, 2024
    by Jesse Zucker
    Breaking Down the Plant-Based Diet

    WASHINGTON — Does the word “diet” have a negative connotation to you? It often gets attached to quick fixes or... Read More

    WASHINGTON — Does the word “diet” have a negative connotation to you? It often gets attached to quick fixes or unsustainable plans that promise to help you “detox” or lose weight. The popular “plant-based diet” may be the one exception. One interpretation simply means eating more... Read More

    February 22, 2024
    by Dan McCue
    Study Finds More Than 40% of Americans Know Someone Who Died by Overdose

    SANTA MONICA. Calif. — More than 40% of Americans have known someone who died of a drug overdose, and about... Read More

    SANTA MONICA. Calif. — More than 40% of Americans have known someone who died of a drug overdose, and about one-third of those individuals say the death disrupted their lives, according to a new study by the Rand Corporation. Researchers with the nonprofit think tank and... Read More

    Silent Brain Changes Precede Alzheimer's. Researchers Have new Clues About Which Come First

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Alzheimer’s quietly ravages the brain long before symptoms appear and now scientists have new clues about the... Read More

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Alzheimer’s quietly ravages the brain long before symptoms appear and now scientists have new clues about the dominolike sequence of those changes — a potential window to one day intervene. A large study in China tracked middle-aged and older adults for 20 years,... Read More

    News From The Well
    scroll top