(NewsNation) — Updated COVID-19 boosters are now available to target the dominant omicron variant. As the latest vaccine rolls out, White House officials are hinting at the next phase of protection: annual COVID-19 shots.
“In the absence of a dramatically different variant, we likely are moving toward 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,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said at a White House news briefing Tuesday.
However, Dr. Monica Gandhi says an annual COVID-19 shot might not be necessary.
She says the following signs are good news:
- We have not had a new variant since Nov. 26, 2021.
- Hospitalizations are staying low.
- Older people are more at risk for a severe breakthrough infection. Europe and the United Kingdom are recommending booster shots for older people.
“I’m not sure if we’re jumping the gun by saying … we need annual booster shots or everyone does. I think older people are going to need them,” Gandhi said.
Gandhi also encouraged people to wait six months after an infection, or a previous booster, to get the new booster shot.
“I would suggest that people look at the data. You do have to space out boosters, or your last infection to have a good response from the booster. So I would recommend six months since your last infection,” Gandhi said. “Say you got omicron in May … Wait until November, or your last booster, because if you give it too soon, you actually abrogate some of your immune response.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccines, meaning completing a primary series and receiving the most recent booster recommended for them.
“Vaccine recommendations are based on your age, the vaccine you first received, and time since last dose,” the CDC states. “People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised have different recommendations for COVID-19 vaccines.”
To determine when or if you can get one or more boosters, the CDC has provided a tool to help you decide. The agency says the tool is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat the virus, only to make a decision about getting COVID-19 vaccinations.