FDA Committee Votes to Roll Out a New Covid Vaccination Strategy

A committee of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) voted unanimously on a proposal to simplify the nation’s strategy for vaccinating people against Covid.

The federal advisory panel is aiming to simplify and routinize Covid vaccinations. 

The recommendation is that future Covid vaccines should be interchangeable. No matter whether you are receiving your first dose or a booster, the vaccines would all have the same formulation targeting the same viral strain or strains, regardless of the manufacturer. 

The vote was unanimous: 21-0.

With vaccines and boosters authorized incrementally for different vaccines and different age groups as the SARS-CoV-2 virus continued to evolve, there are now more than a dozen vaccines and schedules, the Food and Drug Administration’s Dr. David Kaslow said in opening the panel’s all-day meeting. 

The committee also considered, but is yet to vote on, proposals to have an annual Covid vaccination schedule in the same way that there is for the annual flu shot. 

The idea behind the revamp is to make vaccination less complicated and confusing. The ultimate goal would be to get more people vaccinated.

Most of the committee’s discussion was aimed at informing the FDA, rather than providing formal direction. Any changes in vaccine policy will need to be ratified by the FDA commissioner. 

In a discussion after the vote, the committee discussed several ways to improve the vaccination strategy. The advisers voiced support for a proposal to hold public meetings to guide the selection of strains in the vaccines. After the meetings, the agency would make a formal decision on the selection of strains and direct manufacturers to gear up production.

The agency proposed a meeting in late May or early June this year to have shots ready for the fall. The goal would be to match the vaccine to the likely strains of the coronavirus that would be circulating during the winter.

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