(WXYZ) — Updated booster shots for COVID-19 may be given on a yearly basis. That’s according to federal health officials.
I know folks are wondering how this will work as I’m getting a lot of questions from patients. First, White House officials said they are shifting to yearly COVID-19 vaccinations as long as there are no significant changes to the virus.
Fortunately so far, the omicron subvariants that have been spreading since last December have only had small changes overall. So, its behavior hasn’t changed. And this gives health experts like myself optimism that annual shots will be all we need in the future, just like the flu shot.
Now, will immunity last a year? The updated shots should offer good protection. Trial data suggests the booster doses will provide higher protection against infection as well as transmission and provide longer lasting protection against severe disease.
However, people who are elderly or have weakened immune systems that make them more susceptible to severe illness may need more than one dose.
But again, this plan could all change if a drastically different variant pops up. One thing we know about the coronavirus is that it can be unpredictable. Having said that, we now have a platform that allows vaccine experts to quickly make changes. And so, the virus will be monitored very closely, and vaccines will be adjusted if necessary.
So far, only 1 in 3 Americans aged 5 and older have gotten a booster shot. But I’m hopeful that will change because this is the first time that we have a vaccine that can fight variants that are circulating right now.
BA.5 is the dominant subvariant, making up more than 88% of cases. And BA.4 sublineages make up about 11%. Also, I want to point out that deaths are higher now than in the spring. Our current daily average is just over 400. In the spring, our numbers were half that, around 200 deaths per day.
So I highly recommend people aged 12 and up get vaccinated with the updated vaccine as soon as possible. You can get the booster shot two months after your last dose or three months if you were infected with the virus. I know CVS and Walgreens have started offering appointments. I recommend people visit vaccines.gov.
Additional Coronavirus information and resources:
View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.
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