May 4, 2023 - Health

FDA panel to meet on next COVID-19 boosters

Illustration of two direction signs shaped like syringes pointing in different directions

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Food and Drug Administration advisers have set their next meeting to decide how to make the next round of COVID-19 boosters available to the general public this fall, now that they're available for older adults and high-risk people.

Driving the news: An FDA expert panel will meet June 15 to discuss and make recommendations on what strains to include in the "periodic updated" COVID vaccines this fall.

  • The FDA has said that it intends to make decisions about future vaccination after the panel meeting.

The big picture: U.S. health officials have previously indicated that they plan to recommend that people get COVID shots once a year, a similar schedule to the flu vaccine, as COVID becomes more normalized.

What they're saying: "At some point, the virus is divergent enough from the strain for which the vaccine was designed that you need to consider a modified design," Sten Vermund, professor of public health and pediatrics at Yale School of Public Health, told the Wall Street Journal.

The backstory: In April, the CDC and the FDA authorized a second Omicron booster, or bivalent shot, from Moderna and Pfizer for adults aged 65 and older and immunocompromised people to address their waning immunity.

  • The FDA also revoked the authorizations of the original vaccines — the monovalent shots from Moderna and Pfizer — in an effort to simplify future vaccination schedules and encourage immunization.
  • The FDA recommends that unvaccinated individuals receive a single dose of the bivalent vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer, rather than multiple doses of the monovalent ones.

Of note: Novavax's COVID protein-based vaccine is the only monovalent vaccine available in the U.S. The two-dose vaccine is authorized for people aged 12 and older as a primary series and as a third dose for adults 18 and up.

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