Only one COVID booster per year in the US
The FDA announced on Tuesday (6 September) that it would like to conduct only one COVID booster campaign yearly, similar to the flu vaccine.
Last week, the FDA approved Pfizer and Moderna’s new version of COVID-19 vaccines targeting the Omicron variant, specifically the BA.4 and BA.5 lineages currently circulating in the country.
Several million vaccines have already begun to be distributed so that the large-scale recall campaign planned by the government to contain a possible new wave this winter can start this week.
“We’re probably going to be moving towards a similar pace of vaccination as the annual flu shot, with updated COVID booster doses to match the latest circulating strain,” White House adviser Dr Anthony Fauci told a news conference.
This goal could help boost acceptance of booster shots, as only half of the eligible people in the US have had their first booster dose.Nevertheless, Fauci said that fragile populations, such as the elderly or immunocompromised, may need more frequent boosters.
While the last two winter seasons have seen large waves of cases and deaths, “that doesn’t have to be the case again this year,” Biden said later. “If you are 12 or older, get your COVID-19 booster this fall,” the US president added.
The US population is encouraged to get their flu shots simultaneously.
“I think that’s why God gave us two arms, one for the flu and one for the COVID vaccine,” said Ashish Jha, who coordinates the US executive action against the coronavirus.
“We expect millions of people to get their shots this month,” he added.
According to Health Secretary Xavier Becerra, more than 90% of Americans will live within five miles of a vaccination site by the end of the week.
The recall targeting Pfizer’s Omicron has been authorized for all persons over 12 years of age and from 18 years of age for Moderna’s. It should be done at least two months after a previous dose.
The BA.4 and BA.5 variants currently account for more than 99% of the approximately 80,000 new infections per day in the US.
According to projections, about 100,000 hospitalizations and 9,000 deaths could be avoided if the COVID booster shots were given in the same proportion as the flu booster shots this fall, said Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).