Americans may need yearly shots to protect against COVID-19

Sep 6, 2022, 12:43 PM
(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)...
(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

(CNN) — Americans ages 12 and up are eligible to get their first updated COVID-19 shots now, and they probably won’t be their last.

Going forward, Americans may need to get a single, annual COVID-19 shot every year, White House health officials said on Tuesday, making clear the country will be living with the coronavirus for the foreseeable future.

“This week marks an important shift in our fight against the virus,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, who is leading the White House COVID-19 Response Team. “It marks our ability to make Covid vaccines a more routine part of our lives as we continue to drive down serious illness and deaths and protect Americans heading into the fall and winter.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says he expects this fall to be the beginning of annual shots for COVID-19, though he added that those who are immunocompromised might need more frequent protection.

“In the absence of a dramatically different variant, we likely are moving towards a path with a vaccination cadence similar to that of the annual influenza vaccine, with annual updated COVID-19 shots matched to the currently circulating strains for most of the population,” Fauci said.

Fauci said the updated boosters should continue to protect Americans as long as the virus changes incrementally, drifting away from the currently circulating BA.4 and BA.5 viruses.

He acknowledged that the plan to provide Americans with a single, annual shot against COVID-19 might need to be revised if the coronavirus makes a significant evolutionary leap, as it did when the Omicron variant surfaced around Thanksgiving last year. He likened this to an “out-of-left-field curveball.”

“There’s nothing we can do about that except know that we have vaccine platforms that will allow us to quickly move to address that,” Fauci told reporters on Tuesday.

But he stressed that barring any big changes to the virus, the updated boosters should continue to protect in the year ahead and could be updated annually.

“The BA.5 updated vaccine that we’re talking about very likely would hold a substantial degree of protection against a minor sublineage change from BA.5. So that’s what we’re talking about. If we can do that, at the end of each year for most of the population, and again to underscore what we said — for those who have underlying conditions, immunocompromised, we may need to do it more. But for the bulk of the population, we can look at it on a yearly basis and see, are we still close to what we’re doing now? Well, we match pretty closely, if so good. If not, then you’d want to make the modification,” Fauci said.

Jha urged Americans age 12 and above to take advantage of the updated boosters, stressing that it was the first time the country has had vaccines that match the currently circulating variants.

He also said people should get their flu shots at the same time as their COVID-19 vaccines.

“I really believe this is why God gave us two arms, one for the flu shot and one for the Covid shot,” Jha quipped.

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters that “the benefits of being up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines are clear.”

Omicron subvariants BA.5 and BA.4 are the dominant circulating variants of COVID-19, Walensky said. While hospitalizations are down 14% since last week, there are more deaths now than in the spring, she said.

“The seven-day average daily deaths are still too high, about 375 per day, well above the around 200 deaths a day we saw earlier this spring, and in my mind, far too high for a vaccine-preventable disease,” Walensky said.

Fauci said his message to Americans “is simple: Get your updated COVID-19 shot as soon as you are eligible in order to protect yourself, your family and your community against COVID-19 this fall and winter.”

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

Associated Press

CDC drops traveler health notices for individual countries

The CDC is doing away with notices about the COVID-19 risk of visiting specific countries.
1 day ago
WILMINGTON, NC - SEPTEMBER 23: Former President Donald Trump arrives at a Save America Rally at the...
Associated Press

Trump files $475 million defamation lawsuit against CNN

Former President Donald Trump has gone to court against CNN, a familiar target when he was president.
1 day ago
Search crews in Florida....
Mike Anderson

Rescue teams continue to find residents effected by Hurricane Ian

Search teams are helping oversee FEMA's efforts to search for those survivors, which is no easy task.
1 day ago
FILE photo...
REBECCA BOONE Associated Press

Idaho ordered to pay $2.5M to transgender inmate for legal fees

A federal judge has ordered Idaho and its prison medical care provider to pay more than $2.5 million in legal fees to a transgender inmate who sued after she was denied gender confirmation surgery.
1 day ago
surveillance image of possible shooter...
Associated Press

Killings of 5 men in California are related, police say

Rewards totaling $85,000 have been offered for information leading to an arrest in five fatal shootings since July in Stockton, California, that investigators believe are related.
1 day ago
OREM, UT - FEBRUARY 21: A bump stock is installed on an AK-47 at Good Guys Gun and Range on Februar...
Associated Press

Supreme Court rejects bump stock ban cases, one from Utahn

The Supreme Court says it won't take up two cases that involved challenges to a ban enacted during the Trump administration on bump stocks. Those are the gun attachments that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire rapidly like machine guns.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Americans may need yearly shots to protect against COVID-19