Another COVID Booster Shot This Spring?
- If you have already received a bivalent booster, it is not necessary for you to get another COVID-19 vaccine.
- The FDA authorities are deliberating on whether or not to approve a second bivalent COVID booster shot for individuals at high risk.
- According to specialists, the existing bivalent booster shots are still efficacious, and there is no urgent need to develop another reformulated booster.
It has been over six months since the updated COVID-19 vaccines containing Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 spike proteins were introduced. As a result, many individuals are curious about whether it is nearly time for a new booster shot or if yearly COVID boosters, similar to annual flu shots, will be required.
A recent article from The Wall Street Journal suggests that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering authorizing a second dose of bivalent COVID boosters for those at high risk.
Why You Can’t Get Another Bivalent Booster Yet
At present, if you have already received a bivalent booster, your vaccination status is deemed current. Gonzalo Bearman, MD, who serves as the Chief of Infectious Diseases at Virginia Commonwealth University Health, stated that “if one has already received the bivalent COVID-19 vaccine, there is no additional need for a booster vaccine.”
David Dowdy, MD, a professor in the department of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, explained that the issue with recommending a second bivalent booster shot broadly is the lack of available data. While there is convincing evidence that the current vaccine series is effective against severe COVID-19, Dowdy emphasized that “it’s not entirely clear how beneficial another dose of the Omicron-tailored shot would be for high-risk individuals.”
Public health officials are closely monitoring new and evolving data on COVID-19 vaccinations to inform their recommendations. Presently, they are not encouraging individuals to consider additional boosters as part of an annual routine, similar to the flu shot.
What Does the WHO Recommend?
Aligning with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) updated roadmap for COVID-19 vaccination priorities, authorizing an additional vaccine booster shot for high-risk individuals would be advisable. The WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) recently suggested providing an extra booster shot 6 to 12 months after the last dose for priority groups such as elderly individuals, frontline healthcare workers, individuals with comorbid or immunocompromised health conditions, and pregnant individuals.
Do the Bivalent Boosters Still Work?
Suggesting another booster dose for high-risk individuals does not imply that the bivalent boosters are inadequate in safeguarding against COVID-19. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends using the bivalent vaccines for primary immunization, not just as boosters. Although the bivalent booster remains effective against current COVID variants, a person’s immunity may diminish over time, making it necessary to have seasonal or yearly booster vaccinations in the future.
The Biden Administration is reportedly planning to introduce another reformulated COVID booster later this year. David Dowdy, MD, a professor in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s department of epidemiology, stated that he doesn’t believe there’s a pressing need to create new formulations, particularly since COVID-19 cases are declining. However, he added that there may be a need for these additional formulations in the future.
As of now, the FDA has not authorized another bivalent booster shot. If it’s been about six months since your last dose and you wish to increase your protection against COVID, experts advise taking standard precautions such as wearing high-quality face masks, avoiding crowded indoor gatherings with poor ventilation, and washing your hands thoroughly and regularly. Dowdy recommended that individuals should not become a source of infection and should wear a mask if they experience symptoms of COVID-19 or other respiratory illnesses and stay home if feasible.
What This Means For You
You may not require another COVID booster this spring if you’ve already received a bivalent vaccine dose, but high-risk individuals might be recommended to get an additional dose if approved by the FDA. Please note that the information provided in this article is accurate as of the listed date, and new information may be available when you read this.
For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.
Disclaimer & References:
The information provided by TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track is backed by credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, to ensure accuracy and reliability. It is intended for educational and informational purposes only and is not a replacement for professional medical advice. For any concerns or inquiries about a medical condition, it is recommended to seek advice from a qualified healthcare provider.
- World Health Organization. SAGE updates COVID-19 vaccination guidance.