On Thursday, a Food and Drug Administration panel is expected to vote on whether to recommend changes to the COVID-19 vaccine for this fall.
An updated vaccine would include targeting the omicron strain of the virus and would take out antibodies for earlier strains of the virus. The current booster shot intended for those who completed their primary vaccine series got a dose that includes antibodies of the original strain and omicron.
The FDA has stated that COVID-19 vaccines will likely be treated like flu shots, with the general public being encouraged to get vaccinated every year. Flu shots are also updated annually to better match various virus strains actively circulating.
The panel will decide whether to include three separate lineages of the omicron variant: XBB 1.5, XBB 1.16 and XBB 2.3.
Although slightly more than half of Americans generally get a flu vaccine, fewer were interested in COVID-19 boosters. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, 17% of the general population got a COVID-19 booster shot, whereas 69% of the country, including 79% of adults, have completed their primary vaccine series.
According to Ruth Link-Gelles with the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, the current bivalent vaccine offers additional protection against hospitalization.
"For most people who received monovalent doses and are eligible for a bivalent booster, more than a year has elapsed since their last monovalent dose," she said. "Because of waning, they may have limited remaining protection against hospitalization."
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