| 5 February 2023, Sunday |

U.S. FDA proposes shift to annual COVID vaccine shots

In an effort to streamline the nation’s COVID-vaccine policy, the U.S. health authority on Monday suggested giving healthy persons one dose of the most recent updated COVID-19 injection yearly, comparable to the influenza immunization campaign.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also requested that its panel of outside experts explore administering two doses of the COVID vaccine annually to some small children, elderly people, and people with weakened immune systems. In briefing documents provided in advance of a meeting of its panel on Thursday, the regulator suggested the necessity for routine selection of variants for upgrading the vaccine, similar to how strains for flu vaccinations are altered annually.

The FDA hopes annual immunization schedules may contribute to less complicated vaccine deployment and fewer vaccine administration errors, leading to improved vaccine coverage rates. The agency’s proposal was on expected lines, following its announcement of its intention for the update last month.

The Biden administration has also been planning for a campaign of vaccine boosters every fall season.

Currently, most people in the United States need to first get two doses of the original COVID vaccine spaced at least three to four weeks apart, depending on the vaccine, followed by a booster dose a few months later.

Three shots are required for Pfizer’s recommended vaccine dosages for kids and adults, with the third shot being a bivalent shot administered around two months later.

The bivalent vaccines produced by Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc., which are effective against both the Omicron and the original COVID variations, would be used for all doses of the COVID vaccination rather than just boosters if the panel approves the proposal.

  • Reuters