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Fact checked by Nick Blackmer

  • You do not need another COVID-19 vaccine if you have already had a bivalent booster shot.

  • FDA officials are deciding whether to authorize a second COVID booster dose for people at high risk.

  • Experts say that bivalent boosters are still effective and there is no urgent need to create another reformulated booster.

More than six months have passed since the updated COVID-19 vaccines using the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 proteins were introduced. Many people are wondering if it’s time for another booster shot, or if they’ll need to start getting annual COVID boosters like they do with annual flu shots.

According to a report before The Wall Street JournalOfficials from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are said to be weighing whether to allow a second dose of bivalent COVID boosters for people at high risk. But for the general population, another shot is unlikely in the near future.

Here’s what experts want you to know about the spring’s COVID boosters.

Related: Do bivalent boosters protect against XBB.1.5?

Why can’t you get another bivalent booster yet

By now, if you have had a bivalent booster, you are considered to be aware of your vaccinations.

“There is no additional need for a booster vaccine if a person has already received the bivalent COVID-19 vaccine,” Gonzalo Berman, chair of the division of infectious diseases at Virginia Commonwealth University Health, told Fairwell.

According to David Dowdy, MD, a professor in the department of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the challenge with a broad recommendation for a bivalent booster dose is a lack of data.

While there is strong evidence that the current series of vaccines are effective against the severe disease COVID, Dowdy said that it is “not entirely clear how beneficial another dose of the Omicron-designed vaccine would be for high-risk individuals.”

Learn more: A Novavax Booster is here. But who will get it?

Health officials are monitoring new and changing data about coronavirus vaccination to help them make recommendations, which are based solely on the current situation — they’re not yet at the point where they want people to think of additional boosters as part of an annual routine like, say, Flu vaccines.

Authorizing another dose of the booster vaccine for people at high risk is in line with the revised World Health Organization (WHO) roadmap for priority vaccination against COVID-19.

The WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) recently recommended an additional booster dose 6 or 12 months after the last dose for high-priority groups, which include the elderly, frontline healthcare workers, and people with comorbidities. or immunocompromised, pregnant women. the people.

Do bivalent boosters still work?

Recommending another booster dose does not mean that bivalent boosters cannot protect against COVID-19. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that countries use bivalent vaccines for primary vaccination, not just for boosters.

The bivalent booster is still effective against circulating variants of COVID, but a person’s immunity can wane over time. This is why a seasonal or annual booster vaccination may become necessary at some point in the future. In fact, the Biden administration reportedly has plans to roll out another reformulated COVID booster later this year.

“I don’t see an urgent need to generate new formulations, especially as the burden of COVID-19 decreases,” said Dowdy. “But that doesn’t mean there won’t be a role for those additional formulations in the future.”

Related: Will We Need Annual COVID Vaccines?

At the moment, another bivalent booster dose is not authorized by the Food and Drug Administration. If it’s been about six months since your last dose and you want to increase your protection against COVID, experts say you should focus on taking the usual precautions like wearing high-quality face masks, avoiding large indoor gatherings with poor ventilation, and washing your clothes. hands often and correctly.

“Make sure you don’t become a source of infection,” Dowdy said. “If you have symptoms of COVID-19 – or other respiratory illnesses – be sure to wear a mask, and [stay] home when possible.

If you’ve already had a bivalent COVID booster, you may not need an additional booster this spring. An additional dose may be recommended for people at high risk if approved by the FDA.

The information in this article is current as of the date stated, which means that more recent information may be available as you read this. For the latest updates on COVID-19, visit our Coronavirus news page.

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