FDA Announces Plan to Start Annual COVID Vaccines, Similar to Flu Shot Rollout – PEOPLE

The Food and Drug Administration has announced new changes for how the COVID-19 vaccinations could be administered moving forward.

On Monday, the agency published a briefing document proposing that the COVID vaccine switch to an annual shot ahead of the winter months when the virus would be the most dominant — similar to the strategy used when administering the flu vaccine.

Individuals would only need one dose of the vaccine to “restore protective immunity for a period of time.” The change was proposed in hopes of making the process simpler for the public and manufacturers and minimizing errors from doctors.

“This simplification of vaccine composition should reduce complexity, decrease vaccine administration errors due to the complexity of the number of different vial presentations, and potentially increase vaccine compliance by allowing clearer communication,” the briefing document read.

The agency also announced that it plans to retire the original vaccine, which first hit the market at the end of 2020, and use only Moderna and Pfizer’s doses that protect against both the original strain of COVID and the omicron variant.

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Back in October, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted unanimously in favor of adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the recommended immunization schedules in 2023.

The panel said all adults and children 6 months and older should get the COVID vaccine and booster doses when eligible.

“It has been almost two years since COVID-19 vaccines were first rolled out in the U.S., and nearly 630 million doses have since been administered nationwide, providing people with critical protection against severe COVID-19,” the agency said in a release. “ACIP’s recommendation to add COVID-19 vaccines to the routinely recommended vaccine schedule represents another step in the nation’s recovery.”

The CDC also responded to misinformation that the vote would make the vaccine mandatory for children across the country to attend school, assuring that there have been no changes to guidelines and states are still able to establish their individual vaccination requirements.