Americans can expect annual COVID-19 boosters, says White House

U.S. federal health officials announced on Tuesday “a new phase” in the government’s COVID-19 response. The next phase, according to President Joe Biden’s statement on the FDA and CDC authorizing updated COVID-⁠19 booster vaccines, “for most Americans, means one COVID-19 shot, once a year, each fall,” suggesting COVID vaccinations could become akin to yearly influenza shots.

“As the virus continues to change, we will now be able to update our vaccines annually to target the dominant variant. Just like your annual flu shot, you should get it sometime between Labor Day and Halloween,” President Biden said in his statement, referring to the previously announced fall booster campaign.

During the press briefing by the White House COVID-⁠19 Response Team and public health officials earlier on Tuesday, the White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha noted this “marks our ability to make COVID vaccines a more routine part of our lives” and protect Americans heading into the fall and winter.

Following the FDA’s authorization and CDC’s recommendation of updated versions of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, the United States is the first nation with “new vaccines that match the version of the Omicron variant that is currently dominant,” said Dr. Jha.

He. also emphasized that the administration’s goal for this fall is to make sure “that vaccines are free, that they’re widely available, and they are easy to access for everybody.”

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, underscored that COVID boosters would have “cadence similar to that of the annual influenza vaccine” for most of the population. However, “some – particularly vulnerable groups – may continue to need more frequent vaccination against COVID-19.”

A shift in messaging on COVID prevention

As per Dr. Robert Wachter, who chairs the Department of Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, “Tuesday’s announcement marked a shift in how COVID-19 prevention is messaged.”

As quoted by CNN, Dr. Wachter said that by making boosters feel more manageable “by casting them as something you do every year, like getting a flu vaccine,” the White House and CDC are hoping to get more people boosted.

“I think it’s a really smart way of rebranding and rethinking it,” Dr. Wachter said, reiterating that  “the biggest problem with the vaccines today is that people aren’t getting them.”







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