COVID-19 Likely to Require Annual Vaccine Booster

By: Beth Mausteller

The White House coronavirus coordinator said Tuesday that the United States is moving to a point where, barring curveballs from new variants, the coronavirus vaccine schedule would be similar to the annual flu shot.

Dr. Graham Snyder, medical director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology for UPMC, says the definitive vaccine schedule will be determined based on how the pandemic develops, but annual boosters seem likely. “The reason we do it for influenza is that influenza viruses that are circulating are constantly evolving. As the virus that causes COVID-19 changes, an updated vaccine yearly may be the most effective way to make sure our immune systems are prepared for that changing virus.”

The announcement from the White House came after regulators cleared the way for a new bivalent booster, which targets the original strain of the coronavirus and omicron variants. Health experts will continue to monitor the virus, and the COVID-19 vaccine would be updated to respond to a changing virus.

Snyder added that everyone should be vaccinated against the coronavirus and the flu. “You can get the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as other vaccines. It’s safe to do that. And if it helps increase the chance that you’ll get both of them, that’s fantastic.”