While characterizing them as different from the boosters people have received to ward off Covid, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new Covid shot on Monday, one that will be pushed to the public along with their seasonal flu vaccines.
The FDA is attempting to normalize the Covid shots as the same as other vaccines that people get throughout their lives, starting in infancy.
The FDA says the new vaccines are formulated to more closely target currently circulating variants and to provide better protection against serious consequences of Covid-19, including hospitalization and death.
“Today’s actions relate to updated mRNA vaccines for 2023-2024 manufactured by ModernaTX Inc. and Pfizer Inc. Consistent with the totality of the evidence and input from the FDA’s expert advisors, these vaccines have been updated to include a monovalent (single) component that corresponds to the Omicron variant XBB.1.5,” the FDA said in its statement.
The shots will be given to people 5 years of age and older regardless of previous vaccination with a Covid-19 formula, if it has been two months since their last dose of any Covid-19 shot.
- Individuals 6 months through 4 years of age who have previously been vaccinated against Covid-19 are eligible to receive one or two doses of an updated mRNA Covid-19 vaccine (timing and number of doses to administer depends on the previous Covid-19 vaccine received).
- Unvaccinated individuals 6 months through 4 years of age are eligible to receive three doses of the updated authorized Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 Vaccine or two doses of the updated authorized Moderna Covid-19 Vaccine.
- The FDAsays it is confident in the safety and effectiveness of these updated vaccines and the agency’s benefit-risk assessment says it demonstrates that the benefits of these vaccines for individuals 6 months of age and older outweigh their risks.
- Individuals who receive an updated mRNA Covid-19 vaccine may experience similar side effects as those reported by individuals who previously received mRNA Covid-19 vaccines as described in the respective prescribing information or fact sheets, the agency says.
- The updated vaccines are expected to provide good protection against Covid-19 from the currently circulating variants, the FDA says. “Barring the emergence of a markedly more virulent variant, the FDA anticipates that the composition of Covid-19 vaccines may need to be updated annually, as is done for the seasonal influenza vaccine.”
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet Sept. 12, to discuss clinical recommendations on who should receive an updated vaccine, as well as further considerations for specific populations such as immunocompromised and older individuals.
- Manufacturers have publicly announced that the updated vaccines would be ready this fall, and the FDA anticipates that the updated vaccines will be available in the near future.
“Vaccination remains critical to public health and continued protection against serious consequences of Covid-19, including hospitalization and death,” said Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “The public can be assured that these updated vaccines have met the agency’s rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality. We very much encourage those who are eligible to consider getting vaccinated.”
The updated mRNA vaccines are each approved for individuals 12 years of age and older and are authorized under emergency use for individuals 6 months through 11 years of age. As part of today’s actions, the bivalent Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines are no longer authorized for use in the United States.