FDA proposing annual COVID-19 shot

Marian Regional Medical Center Santa Maria.PNG
Posted at 5:49 PM, Jan 24, 2023

This week, the FDA announced plans that would allow you to receive an updated COVID-19 vaccine every year.

The latest proposal from the federal agency is intended to simplify the COVID-19 booster schedule by making it more like the annual flu shot.

Dr. Chuck Merrill, Chief Medical Officer at Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria, tells KSBY an updated yearly vaccine would be crucial for tackling future variants.

"COVID-19 is not intended to be quite as seasonal as influenza, but they keep talking about new variants and I think this makes a lot of sense from a scientific point of view," Dr. Merrill said Tuesday.

Right now, anyone who wants a COVID-19 booster shot is required to complete the primary vaccination series first. That could change come Thursday when FDA advisors will meet next to discuss whether most Americans should be allowed to receive the currently available booster, regardless of how many prior doses they have received.

But despite support for a yearly vaccine from the FDA, as well as Marian Regional Medical Center, some locals we spoke to voiced their hesitation about getting another shot.

"I will not get any more," said Bettie Burgess, who has received the primary vaccination series.

"I am 68 years old and I am perfectly healthy," added Lupe Robinette, who says she is yet to receive the primary series of the COVID-19 vaccine. "I had COVID one time and it didn't affect me at all. It was like the cold."

Still, Dr. Merrill warns that since we have seen the original coronavirus strain mutate into several different variants over these past two years, he says a potential updated annual booster would provide the best protection against the next variant that circulates.

"I think the future is going to look like getting your COVID shot, your flu shot at the same time and you move on," he said. "Those people that don’t want to get vaccinated, that is their business, but I would recommend all my friends and family take this yearly booster."

The FDA's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will review the agency's proposal this Thursday.

The committee will also discuss whether the primary COVID-19 vaccine series should be changed to the updated bivalent booster which was approved to combat Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5