Will we soon have to get another bivalent COVID booster? Health experts respond

As Americans who have received their bivalent COVID-19 booster shots arrive six months after their injection, what are the chances that waning immunity will leave people vulnerable without another dose?

So far, agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration have only offered an annual recall plan, according to Yahoo News. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Immunization Practices Advisory Committee said declines in vaccine effectiveness “are not yet known,” the news site added.

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Dr. Peter Hotez, co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, told Yahoo News that getting another booster “is probably the most common question I get asked.”

“In the past, for monovalent boosters, when you look at certain data, the protection against hospitalization starts to decline after about five months,” Hotez continued. In the event that bivalent boosters are similar, “we’re getting closer to that point, and that’s why I think it’s important for the CDC or the FDA or both to issue a statement, so we know where we stand. at this point,” Hotez said.

Bivalent booster shots target older strains of the virus as well as newer omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants. Future vaccines and boosters have been recommended by the CDC to be all bivalent, MassLive previously reported in January. The FDA’s expert advisory committee agreed that fighting COVID-19 with an annual vaccine is incomparable to annual flu shots due to COVID-19 outbreaks and new variants.

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“There would have been a decrease in protective immunity, certainly against mild and possibly moderate illnesses,” Dr. William Moss, a professor at the Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Yahoo News. “There is no right answer. It will also depend on the level of community transmission, but I would say that would be a reasonable consideration. »

For anyone who is elderly or immunocompromised and concerned about when to get another booster, University of California San Francisco professor of medicine Dr. Monica Gandhi told Yahoo News that studies claim that initial doses of vaccines are still doing a good job of protecting against severe COVID. -19 infections.

“I would say that the initial doses of the vaccines you received seem to be working very well, and I wouldn’t be concerned about needing another dose until the fall, based on the level of evidence we have” , Gandhi added.

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Despite concerns and reassurances, only 53.6 million, or 16%, of Americans have received a booster shot, according to CDC data. In Massachusetts, less than a third of Berkshire County’s 100,000 residents are boosted, and the state has campaigned to encourage people to get vaccinated by offering a $75 gift card, WAMC reported.

“…Bivalent recall is really what’s going to protect individuals going forward,” Massachusetts Department of Public Health chief medical officer Dr. Estevan Garcia told WAMC. “And we anticipate that will become an annual event, just like the flu shot.”

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