Got the latest COVID-19 booster shot? Here’s why you may need another dose of vaccine sooner rather than later
FDA official says worry about waning protection from vaccines is ‘what keeps me up at night’
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, told statnews.com there’s a possibility that what was hoped to be an annual booster shot may need to be updated in the coming months, at least for some people.
“I would be lying to you if (I said) it doesn’t keep me up at night worrying that there is a certain chance that we may have to deploy another booster — at least for a portion of the population, perhaps older individuals — before next September, October,” Marks said in an interview with the Boston-based health and medical news site.
“I’m not saying that’s what’s going to happen, but it’s what keeps me up at night, because we see how fast this virus is evolving,” he said about recommending what for many would be a sixth dose of COVID-19 vaccine since it first became available in late 2020.
Despite fears that new strains of the virus could drive another surge this winter, uptake has lagged for the new booster shots, called bivalent because they target currently circulating versions of the omicron variant along with the original COVID-19 and are now offered to anyone 5 and older who has gotten the initial vaccination series.
COVID-19 vaccines continue to be seen as effective in preventing hospitalization and death from the virus. But Marks, who heads the FDA’s vaccination efforts, acknowledged to statenews.com he is concerned about how soon the protection provided against breakthrough cases is waning.
The FDA official said there’s pressure on the manufacturers of the vaccines that use new mRNA technology to boost their durability, as well as new interest in other types of vaccines. Marks said “there are those out there that might provide more durable immunity,” without identifying what those might be.
Besides mRNA vaccines and bivalent booster shots from Pfizer and Moderna, the list of vaccines approved by the federal government also includes more traditional formulations from Novavax and Johnson & Johnson that include what’s known as monovalent booster shots.
“I would love to see us have a very ecumenical look over all of the available vaccines and all of the vaccines in development to try to see what’s best moving forward,” Marks said. “Not to diss the current mRNA vaccines, but because we owe it to the population to see what might provide the greatest breadth, depth, and duration of immunity against COVID-19.”