President Joe Biden’s top COVID advisor has announced that the White House wants people to have an annual jab to protect against the coronavirus, arguing it would be like a “regular flu shot.“
White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha confirmed the long suspected policy of annual vaccinations.
“As the annual flu vaccination campaign kicks into high gear later this month and into early October, we expect millions will choose to get their COVID-19 shot at the same time or over the course of the fall when people go in for routine checkups,” he said.
“The good news is you can get both your flu shot and COVID shot at the same time. It’s actually a good idea,” Jha said.
“I really believe this is why God gave us two arms — one for the flu shot and the other one for the COVID shot,” he said.
But some experts questioned whether the data supported an annual jab.
“It’s alarming that there hasn’t been organization around these vital questions so that we can actually answer them in a very enlightened and data-driven and knowledgeable manner,” said Luciana Borio, a former acting chief scientist at the FDA.
She said in April: “It’s so reactive. And we know that this just snowballs. And we end up being stuck with decisions that don’t really make sense.”
Earlier this week, White House administrators insisted that an annual shot was the best way to combat the pandemic.
Health Secretary Xavier Becerra said that 90 percent of Americans would live within five miles of sites carrying updated vaccines by the end of the week.
In a separate statement, President Joe Biden said for most Americans, “that means one COVID-19 shot, once a year, each fall.”
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rochelle Walensky, said annual shots could save thousands of lives.
“Modeling projections show that an uptake of updated COVID-19 vaccine doses similar to an annual flu vaccine coverage early this fall could prevent as many as 100,000 hospitalizations and 9,000 deaths and save billions of dollars in direct medical costs,” she said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci said annual vaccines should offer enough protection but added that some vulnerable groups might need more.
“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,” he said.
The new boosters aim to tackle the BA.5 and BA.4 Omicron subvariants, Walensky said.