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FDA Considering Annual COVID Vaccine

Posted by S. Kit on
woman getting vaccine and wearing a mask

A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel has unanimously recommended that those who haven't yet received a COVID-19 vaccines should be eligible for an updated dose that includes new strains of the virus, moving the federal government's plan to simplify the vaccination process one step close.

However this COVID-19 vaccine recommendation for bivalent vaccines, targeting both the original strain and new variants, still requires approval from the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The plan also calls for most Americans to receive a single annual dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, similar to when they receive their annual flu shot.


Read more: Vaccines Are Safe For Kids


However, some people such as young children, older adults, and those with compromised immune systems will still require two doses of the vaccine per year. The panel suggested that the current multiple vaccines schedule with varying schedules may be contributing to low vaccination rates, CNN reported.

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According to CDC data, 70% of the U.S. population has received the initial COVID-19 vaccination series, which is typically two doses. This makes them eligible for a booster shot under current recommendations.

However, the data also shows that less than 16% have received the updated COVID-19 booster shot which was formulated to target earlier versions of the omicron variant that caused a surge in cases nationwide last year.

The FDA panel may be required to provide updates to the COVID-19 vaccine on an annual basis, specifically in the summer season. The current booster dose that targets the Omicron subvariants is no longer effective as newer, more transmissible versions such as XBB.1.5 (nicknamed "kraken") have emerged.


Read more: New Study: COVID And High Cholesterol Linked


According to CNN, a member of the advisory panel, Dr. Hayley Gans, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Stanford University, said "This isn't only a convenience thing, to increase the number of people who are vaccinated."

"Extremely important for all the evidence that was related, but I also think moving towards the strains that are circulating is very important, so I would also say the science supports this move." Gans added, as she agreed with her FDA panel advisory.

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The panel of advisors recommended that Pfizer, Moderna, and other vaccine manufacturers align their initial series of vaccinations with the updated bivalent booster shot. The panel did not vote on other aspects of the FDA's plan, as reported by Stat, a medical publication based in Boston.

The advisory committee seemed to be in favor of suggesting another COVID-19 vaccination next year, as reported by STAT. However, beyond that, there were questions raised about the use of the vaccines on an annual basis.

"We may or may not need annual vaccination;" said Dr. Cody Meissner, a pediatrician at Tufts University School of Medicine. "It's just awfully early, it seems to me, in this process to answer that."

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