FDA Proposes Shift to Annual Covid Vaccine Shots

The Food and Drug Administration has proposed one dose of the latest updated Covid vaccination annually for healthy adults. 

This would be similar to the influenza immunization recommendation. It comes as the U.S. aims to simplify the country’s Covid-vaccine strategy.

The Food and Drug Administration also asked its panel of external advisers to consider the usage of two Covid vaccine shots a year for some young children, older adults, and persons with compromised immunity. 

A Food and Drug Administration expert panel this week will consider the proposed process for updating Covid shots that resembles the annual strain selection process for seasonal flu vaccines.

The regulator proposed the need for routine selection of variants for updating the vaccine, similar to the way strains for flu vaccines are changed annually, in briefing documents ahead of a meeting of its panel on Thursday.

The agency is sketching out a long-term strategy that responds to new strains and shifting threats, replacing a system that’s been largely drawn up and revised on the fly.

The FDA anticipates conducting an assessment at least annually starting in the spring, with advisers meeting around early June to discuss the strain selection process.

The FDA hopes annual immunization schedules may contribute to less complicated vaccine rollout programs and fewer vaccine administration errors. They expect that the simplification would lead to improved vaccination rates across the nation. 

At the moment, most people in the U.S. need to first get two doses of the original Covid vaccine spaced at least three to four weeks apart, depending on the vaccine, followed by a booster dose a few months later.

A decision on the recommended vaccine composition could be made in time for any updated vaccine to be in production in time to be deployed no later than September, according to the documents.

After the panel meeting, the FDA will consider whether to change existing vaccine authorizations and the process to select strains.

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