United States citizens may be required to get a single Covid-19 vaccination on an annual basis, federal health officials stated on Tuesday, confirming they expect the US to be living with the coronavirus for the foreseeable future.
“This week marks an important shift in our fight against the virus,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, who is leading the White House Covid-19 Response Team. “It marks our ability to make Covid vaccines a more routine part of our lives as we continue to drive down serious illness and deaths and protect Americans heading into the fall and winter.”
A federal advisory board met on Thursday and voted 13-1 in favor of recommending the boosters after the attendees spent over six hours reviewing data on the current state of the pandemic and the benefits and concerns of the new shots. The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, signed off on the panel’s recommendation a few hours after the meeting concluded.
“This recommendation followed a comprehensive scientific evaluation and robust scientific discussion,” Walensky said in a statement. “If you are eligible, there is no bad time to get your COVID-19 booster and I strongly encourage you to receive it.”
The new booster shots from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna target the original virus along with two new variants, called BA.4 and BA.5, which are dominating infections in both the U.S. and the world.
BA.5 now accounts for 88% of the COVID-19 infections in the United States. The current 7-day average for Covid hospitalisations, according to the CDC tracker, is 4,849. Pfizer-BioNTech shots will be available to anyone 12 and older, while Moderna’s will be available for those over 18.
Both President Joe Biden and White House Medical Officer Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke about the benefit of the booster shots.
“This week, we begin a new phase in our COVID-19 response. We are launching a new vaccine – our first in almost two years – with a new approach. For most Americans, that means one COVID-19 shot, once a year, each fall,” Biden said.
Fauci said he expects the Covid vaccine to follow a similar trend to that of the flu vaccine.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that, looking forward with the Covid-19 pandemic, in the absence of a dramatically different variant, we likely are moving toward a path with a vaccination cadence similar to that of the annual influenza vaccine, with annual updated Covid-19 shots matched to the currently circulating strains for most of the population,” said Fauci.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: CNN
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