Health experts explain new FDA recommendation for COVID-19 boosters

DELMARVA- If you need your COVID-19 booster, there may be some changes to what’s in the mix this Fall

“The approach that is being taken with the bivariant as they are calling them COVID vaccines is really scientifically based and it’s similar to how we formulate the flu vaccine every year,” Heather Snyder, Infection Prevention Manager at Atlantic General Hospital, said.

The US Food and Drug Administration recently decided to advise manufacturers that when they update the COVID-19 vaccine booster they should add an Omicron BA 4 and 5 component to the current vaccine formula. “The idea is is that as a respiratory virus and going into respiratory season in the late Fall, Winter in early Spring that we want to vaccinate people the best way that we possibly can,” Dr. William Chasanov, an Infectious Disease Specialist with Beebe Healthcare, said.

By making these changes, we’re told by health experts it could offer more protection against these two Omicron subvariants. “They also want to give a vaccine that also induces immunity, immunity against that strain which is the predominant strain now,” Dr. Chasanov said.

“So, we’ve seen that over time the Alpha, the Delta, now Omicron, the efficacy or how well the vaccine works in producing antibodies that fight of the newest variant it’s lower, and lower, and lower,” Dr. James Trumble, Vice President of Clinical Integration at TidalHealth, said.

Some manufacturers have already been testing new mixes of their vaccines. “Pfizer’s data said if we did a combo with the new Omicrons and the old one, didn’t really seem to be as good as just doing something with the new Omicrons and Moderna showed that there was some improvement in the combo one,” Dr. Trumble said.

While these are recommendations, more conversations are needed, including what the vaccination series could look like for people who haven’t gotten vaccinated yet but plan to. “So, I’m sure that will be one of the hot topics that come up as we look to move from where we still remain, a pandemic state, to more of that endemic flu state which is the goal for all of us,”Snyder said.

Health experts we spoke with want to stress that getting the COVID-19 vaccine is still one of the best ways to stay protected against the virus, that goes along with good hygiene practices.

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