The federal government’s effort to simplify COVID-19 shots is one step closer.

Anyone who hasn’t yet been vaccinated against COVID-19 would be eligible for an updated dose that includes new strains of the virus under a unanimous recommendation Thursday by a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel.

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The recommendation that all COVID-19 vaccines should be bivalent, meaning they target both the original strain of the virus as well as new variants just like the latest booster shot does, still needs approval from the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But it’s part of the FDA’s new plan intended to streamline the vaccination process that also calls for most Americans to get a single annual dose of COVID-19 vaccine, likely around the same time that they’re due for a yearly flu shot.

Some people would still need two doses of COVID-19 vaccine a year, including very young children yet to be exposed to the virus, as well as older adults and those who are immunocompromised,

The independent experts on the FDA’s advisory panel heard testimony indicating that separate vaccines for the initial shots and booster doses, all with varying schedules to follow, may contribute to low vaccination rates, CNN reported.

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About 70% of the U.S. population has gotten the initial COVID-19 vaccination series that’s usually two doses, making them eligible for a booster dose under the current recommendations, CDC data shows.

But less than 16% have also received the updated COVID-19 booster shot formulated last year to go after earlier versions of the omicron variant that sent cases skyrocketing nationwide last winter, according to the CDC.

The advisory panel may end up being asked each summer to recommend updates to the COVID-19 vaccine. The omicron subvariants targeted in the current booster dose have been overtaken by newer, more transmissible versions, currently XBB.1.5, nicknamed “kraken.”

“This isn’t only a convenience thing, to increase the number of people who are vaccinated,” a member of the advisory panel, Dr. Hayley Gans, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Stanford University, said according to CNN.

Gans added she agrees with her colleagues that it’s “extremely important for all the evidence that was related, but I also think moving towards the strains that are circulating is very important, so I would also say the science supports this move.”

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The advisory panel backed directing Pfizer, Moderna and other vaccine makers to “harmonize” the primary series of shots with the bivalent booster. Votes were not taken on other parts of the FDA plan, according to STAT, a Boston-based medical publication.

The members of the advisory committee appeared supportive of recommending another COVID-19 shot next year, STAT reported. Beyond that time frame, however, questions emerged including about how the vaccines should be used.

“I think it’s quite reasonable to talk about another one for the fall,” Eric Rubin, a panelist and the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, said according to STAT. “It’s hard to say that it’s going to be annual at this point.”