FDA proposes simplifying the Covid vaccine schedule, making it similar to the flu shot
Thursday’s meeting will be attended by Food and Drug Administration advisors. They will discuss simplifying Covid’s vaccination schedule. This will allow most people to receive the current booster regardless of previous doses.
Briefing documents were posted online Monday that outlined the agency’s proposal.
Everyone 6 months old and over must complete a primary vaccine series. This includes at least two doses of either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or a single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
FDA proposes to skip over the primary series. This means that many people who are not vaccinated could get the most recent booster shot, if they choose to get a Covid vaccine.
According to briefing documents, some groups would still need to receive two doses. These include immunocompromised patients, older adults, and children under 2 years of age.
Experts believe that the FDA’s proposal would simplify the Covid vaccine schedule in the U.S., aligning it closer to the annual flu shot.
Similar to the flu shot in another way, the FDA is examining whether the Covid vaccine should also be updated annually based on the current strains.
On Thursday, the agency’s proposal will be presented to its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee.
The committee will also consider whether the primary series should change to the updated bivalent formula in the booster shots. These shots were authorized for fall protection against the omicron Subvariants BA.4 & BA.5, as well as the original coronavirus strain that was discovered in Wuhan, China in late 2019. Only the original strain is targeted by the vaccines in the primary series.
Anna Durbin, a Johns Hopkins University vaccine researcher in Baltimore, believes that simplifying the Covid schedule is logical.
She said that multiple formulas and vaccination schedules can make it difficult for pharmacists to administer vaccines, and may discourage people from getting vaccinated.
Durbin said that some patients have reported difficulty finding pharmacies that still stock the original vaccines, meaning they couldn’t get their primary series.
Dr. Isaac Bogoch is an infectious disease specialist from the University of Toronto. He said that the FDA’s suggestion to move away from the primary sequence was “reasonable.” Noting that most people have some immunity from prior Covid infections, even though they haven’t been vaccinated, he stated that the majority of people are immune.
He said, “From a human behavior perspective, people who haven’t received the primary series of the vaccine at this time in their lives are unlikely to be vaccinated.” You might see a better response if you tell people, “Listen, I have a booster. Here’s one.