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7 Sep, 2022 05:07

White House unveils yearly Covid boosters

Health officials say coronavirus vaccinations could become akin to yearly influenza shots
White House unveils yearly Covid boosters

The White House has unveiled plans for a new coronavirus vaccine booster that would be taken every autumn, as health officials say an annual jab could offer the best protection against the latest viral variants. 

Declaring a “new phase” in its pandemic response on Tuesday, the White House said it is launching a vaccine initiative “with a new approach,” adding that “most Americans” will need “one Covid-19 shot, once a year, each fall.”

“It’s simple, and it’s easy to understand: If you are vaccinated and 12 and older, get the new Covid-19 shot this fall,” the White House continued. “This once-a-year shot can reduce your risk of getting Covid-19, reduce your chance of spreading it to others, and dramatically reduce your risk of severe Covid-19.”

The statement went on to note that the new immunization offers “the strongest protection” against the Covid-19 Omicron strain, and said the yearly schedule will allow researchers to “update our vaccines annually to target the dominant variant” in the future. 

The vaccine, whose name was not provided by the White House, will be available at tens of thousands of locations beginning this week. Officials compared the new jab to annual flu shots received by many Americans each year, and recommended they receive it “sometime between Labor Day and Halloween.”

During a press briefing earlier on Tuesday, senior health officials discussed the possibility for yearly boosters, with outgoing adviser Anthony Fauci stating the country is likely “moving towards 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.”

Ashish Jha, the White House Covid-19 response coordinator, similarly noted that “barring any new variant curveballs,” the US is “moving to a point where a single annual Covid shot should provide a high degree of protection against serious illness all year.”

At the same briefing, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rochelle Walensky, forecasted that the new shot – and a dosing schedule “similar to an annual flu vaccine coverage” – could prevent up to 9,000 deaths, 100,000 hospitalizations and “save billions of dollars in direct medical cost.”