Health experts react to FDA annual COVID vaccine proposal

(NewsNation) — An advisory panel for the Food and Drug Administration proposed a simplified approach for future COVID-19 vaccination efforts. The administration has signaled that it wants to move to an annual vaccine schedule that follows the model of flu vaccines.

Dr. Corey Hebert, a pediatrician and professor at the LSU School of Medicine, told NewsNation that generally, it’s probably what’s going to happen.

Hebert explained that the reasons the FDA is heading in that direction is that young people are not getting the boosters for the different types of strains. But if people aren’t getting boosters, they are allowing for more strains of COVID-19 to emerge as well as inviting future long COVID symptoms, he said.

“What I think people with the FDA are trying to do is to say, ‘look, we want you to be able to feel comfortable getting these vaccines. So instead of making it so confusing, instead of making it so you have to remember … we’re going to make it uniform. So that you go once a year, just to get this done,” Hebert said.

He said he thinks it will probably be a better way to penetrate the vaccine intolerance and fatigue that people are most likely experiencing right now. But with the comparison between COVID-19 and influenza, Hebert said he expects people won’t have to be given the COVID-19 vaccine for as long as they have been given the flu vaccine, which has been over a half century.

“The reality is, the vaccines must work and they have to be safe. And that’s where we are with every other vaccine. And that’s where we’re going to be with the COVID vaccine: that you could take it or not, but Russian roulette is not something that you like to play these days,” he said.

However, not everybody is on board with this idea.

Dr. Marc Siegel, a clinical professor of medicine and a practicing internist at NYU Langone Medical Center, told Fox News Digital that while, “The idea of a yearly COVID vaccine makes sense, they are ignoring that they really don’t have the vaccine for it yet.”

Siegel said that it makes sense for high-risk groups to continue to consider the COVID vaccination because of the risk to benefit factors, but for everyone else, it should be a one-on-one discussion between the doctor and patient.

Another aspect that could potentially put roadblocks in front of the new proposal is poor compliance and a lack of public trust, Siegel said. For the past three years, the CDC and government agencies have been forcing public mandates and guidelines that a lot of people are tired of.

“Even though these vaccines are overall very safe and are still somewhat effective, much of the public is not convinced — and our leaders should take this into consideration, too,” Siegel said.

The Washington Post interviewed Robert M. Wachter — the chair of the department of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco — who said the approach “seems responable,” but Eric Topol — a professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research — told them the idea of an annual shot was a “flawed approach.”

Topol explained to the Washington Post that there was no existing data to support the vaccine’s effective lifespan, that there’s no proof the vaccine can provide protection past four to six months.

Lawrence O. Gostin, a public health professor at Georgetown Law, also brought up the idea that while the idea of annual shot may attract younger people, it might not work well with older people who need more shots, the Washington Post said.

“There may be too many unknowns,” Peter Hotez, a dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told the Washington Post.

But Dr. Eric Rubin, an adviser and editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, told the New York Times that he’d want to see more data on the effect of dosing intervals before deciding whether the plan could even be considered effective.

“I’d definitely be in favor of something simpler, as it would make it more likely that people might take it,” Rubin told the New York Times.

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