US proposes once-a-year COVID shots for most Americans

Jan 22, 2023, 8:05 PM | Updated: Jan 24, 2023, 6:57 am
FILE - A nurse prepares a syringe of a COVID-19 vaccine at an inoculation station in Jackson, Miss....

FILE - A nurse prepares a syringe of a COVID-19 vaccine at an inoculation station in Jackson, Miss., July 19, 2022. U.S. health officials are proposing a simplified approach to COVID-19 vaccinations, which would allow most adults and children to get a once-a-year shot to protect against the mutating virus. The new system unveiled Monday, Jan. 23, 2023 would make COVID-19 inoculations more like the annual flu shot. Americans would no longer have to keep track of how many shots they’ve received or how many months it’s been since their last booster. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. health officials want to make COVID-19 vaccinations more like the annual flu shot.

The Food and Drug Administration on Monday proposed a simplified approach for future vaccination efforts, allowing most adults and children to get a once-a-year shot to protect against the mutating virus.

This means Americans would no longer have to keep track of how many shots they’ve received or how many months it’s been since their last booster.

The proposal comes as boosters have become a hard sell. While more than 80% of the U.S. population has had at least one vaccine dose, only 16% of those eligible have received the latest boosters authorized in August.

The FDA will ask its panel of outside vaccine experts to weigh in at a meeting Thursday. The agency is expected to take their advice into consideration while deciding future vaccine requirements for manufacturers.

In documents posted online, FDA scientists say many Americans now have “sufficient preexisting immunity” against the coronavirus because of vaccination, infection or a combination of the two. That baseline of protection should be enough to move to an annual booster against the latest strains in circulation and make COVID-19 vaccinations more like the yearly flu shot, according to the agency.

For adults with weakened immune systems and very small children, a two-dose combination may be needed for protection. FDA scientists and vaccine companies would study vaccination, infection rates and other data to decide who should receive a single shot versus a two-dose series.

FDA will also ask its panel to vote on whether all vaccines should target the same strains. That step would be needed to make the shots interchangeable, doing away with the current complicated system of primary vaccinations and boosters.

The initial shots from Pfizer and Moderna — called the primary series — target the strain of the virus that first emerged in 2020 and quickly swept across the world. The updated boosters launched last fall were also tweaked to target omicron relatives that had been dominant.

Under FDA’s proposal, the agency, independent experts and manufacturers would decide annually on which strains to target by the early summer, allowing several months to produce and launch updated shots before the fall. That’s roughly the same approach long used to select the strains for the annual flu shot.

Ultimately, FDA officials say moving to an annual schedule would make it easier to promote future vaccination campaigns, which could ultimately boost vaccination rates nationwide.

The original two-dose COVID shots have offered strong protection against severe disease and death no matter the variant, but protection against mild infection wanes. Experts continue to debate whether the latest round of boosters significantly enhanced protection, particularly for younger, healthy Americans.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Protesters gather in front of police headquarters while marching Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, in Memphi...
Associated Press

Memphis police disband unit that fatally beat Tyre Nichols

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis police chief disbanded the city’s so-called Scorpion unit on Saturday, citing a “cloud of dishonor” from newly released video that showed some of its officers beating Tyre Nichols to death after stopping the Black motorist. Police Director Cerelyn “CJ” Davis acted a day after the harrowing video emerged, saying […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Australia mining company sorry for losing radioactive device

PERTH, Australia (AP) — A mining corporation on Sunday apologized for losing a highly radioactive capsule over a 1,400-kilometer (870-mile) stretch of Western Australia, as authorities combed parts of the road looking for the tiny but dangerous substance. The capsule was part of a device believed to have fallen off a truck while being transported […]
1 day ago
FILE - The Chinese Embassy is pictured in Tokyo on Jan. 11, 2023. China announced it was resuming i...
Associated Press

China announces resumption of visas for Japanese

TOKYO (AP) — China announced it was resuming issuing visas for Japanese travelers beginning Sunday, ending its nearly three-week suspension in an apparent protest of Tokyo’s tougher COVID-19 entry requirements for tourists from China. The decision was announced in a statement posted on the Chinese Embassy’s website. China stopped issuing new visas in Japan on […]
1 day ago
FILE - Conservative Party chairman Nadhim Zahawi leaves the Conservative Party head office in Westm...
Associated Press

UK leader fires party chairman over tax bill allegations

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak fired the chairman of his ruling Conservative Party Sunday over a “serious breach” of the ministerial code. Pressure had been building on Nadhim Zahawi amid allegations he settled a multimillion-dollar unpaid tax bill while he was in charge of the country’s Treasury. In a letter to Zahawi, […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Turkey issues travel warning to Europe following protests

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey issued a travel warning late Saturday for its citizens living in or planning on going to European countries, citing Islamophobia and anti-Turkish demonstrations. The warning comes after last weekend’s protests in Sweden where an anti-Islam activist burned the Quran and pro-Kurdish groups protested against Turkey. The Turkish foreign ministry urged its […]
1 day ago
Oleksandra Hryhoryna inspects her house which was damaged by shelling last fall in Kalynivske, Ukra...
Associated Press

Russians gone from Ukraine village, fear and hardship remain

KALYNIVSKE, Ukraine (AP) — When night falls in Tatiana Trofimenko’s village in southern Ukraine, she pours sunflower oil that aid groups gave her into a jar and seals it with a wick-fitted lid. A flick of a match, and the make-do candle is lit. “This is our electricity,” Trofimenko, 68, says. It has been over […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
US proposes once-a-year COVID shots for most Americans