Monday’s Food and Drug Administration proposal was to approach COVID-19 vaccines, similar to the flu shot that many Americans get each year, in order for protection against virus mutations.
This proposal is intended to make future vaccination easier. This strategy would allow children and adults to get an annual shot to prevent the mutating virus. They wouldn’t have to keep track how many shots or how long it has been since their last booster.
According to FDA scientists, many Americans have “sufficient preexisting immunity” to the coronavirus, according to documents published online. This immunity can be attributed to vaccinations, infections, or a combination thereof.
The agency believes that this level of protection is sufficient to allow for an annual booster against new strains. COVID-19 should also be considered as a yearly shot to prevent the flu.
The FDA will ask its panel to decide whether all vaccines should be targeted at the same strains. This would allow shots to be interchangeable and eliminate the complicated system of boosters and primary vaccinations.
Moderna and Pfizer launched the initial shots to target the virus strain that emerged in 2020. The boosters that were launched last fall had also been modified to target the dominant omicron family members.
FDA proposes that the agency, manufacturers, and independent experts would jointly decide each year which strains to target. This would allow for several months to develop and launch new shots before fall. This is roughly the same method used for selecting the strains of the annual flu shot.
Over 80% of Americans have had at least one vaccination, but only 16% have been eligible for the most recent boosters approved in August.
Officials at the FDA believe that moving to an annual schedule will make it easier for future vaccination campaigns to be promoted, which would ultimately increase vaccination rates across the country.
At a meeting later in the week, the FDA will invite its panel of vaccine experts from outside to weigh in.