UNITED STATES NEWS

US rules out summer COVID boosters to focus on fall campaign

Jul 29, 2022, 8:33 AM | Updated: Jul 31, 2022, 6:58 am
FILE - A vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is displayed on a counter at a pharmacy in Portland, ...

FILE - A vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is displayed on a counter at a pharmacy in Portland, Ore. on Dec. 27, 2021. The Biden administration said Friday it has reached an agreement to buy 66 million doses of Moderna's next generation of COVID-19 vaccine that specifically targets the highly transmissible omicron variant, ensuring enough supply this winter for everyone who wants the upgraded booster. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

(AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. regulators said Friday they are no longer considering authorizing a second COVID-19 booster shot for all adults under 50 this summer, focusing instead on revamped vaccines for the fall that will target the newest viral subvariants.

Pfizer and Moderna expect to have updated versions of their shots available as early as September, the Food and Drug Administration said in a statement. That would set the stage for a fall booster campaign to strengthen protection against the latest versions of omicron.

The announcement means the U.S. won’t pursue a summer round of boosters using the current vaccines for adults under 50, as some Biden administration officials and outside experts previously suggested. They had argued that another round of shots now could help head off rising cases and hospitalizations caused by the highly transmissible omicron strains.

Currently, all Americans age 5 and over are eligible for a booster shot five months after their initial primary series. Fourth doses of the Pfizer or Moderna shots — a second booster — are recommended for Americans 50 and older and for younger people with serious health issues that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19.

The FDA urged eligible adults who haven’t been boosted to get their extra shot now: “You can still benefit from existing booster options and leave time to receive an updated booster in the fall,” the agency said in a statement.

The White House has also emphasized that getting a fourth dose now won’t impact anyone’s ability to get omicron-targeted shots once they’re made available — although how long its been since their last dose will play a role in how soon they’re eligible.

Two omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5, are even more contagious than their predecessors and have pushed new daily cases above 125,000 and hospitalizations to 6,300. Those are the highest levels since February, though deaths have remained low at about 360 per day, thanks to widespread immunity and improved treatments against the virus.

The subvariants are offshoots of the strain responsible for nearly all of the virus spread in the U.S. this year.

All the COVID-19 vaccines given in the U.S. until now have been based on the original version of the virus that began spreading across the country in early 2020.

In June, the FDA told the vaccine makers that any boosters for the fall would have to combine protection against omicron BA.4 and BA.5 and the original coronavirus strain. Both manufacturers have been speeding their production and data gathering to have those so-called bivalent vaccines ready for the fall.

The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would have to sign off on revamped shots before their launch.

The U.S. has a contract to buy 105 million doses of the Pfizer combination shots once they’re ready, and 66 million of Moderna’s version. But how soon large amounts would become available isn’t clear. The government contracts include options to purchase 300 million doses each, but reaching that total will require more funding from Congress, the Biden administration said.

As for timing, getting a booster too soon after the previous dose means missing out on its full benefit — something policymakers will have to take into consideration when rolling out revamped shots.

The White House has at times been frustrated by the pace of decision-making at the FDA and CDC, most notably last summer, when the regulators took weeks to decide whether to authorize the first booster dose for U.S. adults. Privately, West Wing officials believe the delay cost lives, preventing optimum protection amid the delta and omicron surges, but also fed into doubts about vaccine and booster effectiveness that impacted their uptake.

In recent weeks, some of those frustrations have bubbled up again, as regulators considered whether to recommend a fourth shot for all adults, not just those at highest risk from the virus. Some in the White House believe that the additional dose would have helped somewhat with the rapidly spreading BA.5 subvariant, and also lift the confidence of anyone worried that their protection had waned.

Still, officials across the government have acknowledged the risks of vaccine fatigue among Americans, including tens of millions who still haven’t received their first booster. Government figures show less than half of those eligible for a booster have gotten that third shot.

___

Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this story from Washington.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

United States News

Rudy Giuliani arrives at the Fulton County Courthouse on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, in Atlanta.  Giu...
Associated Press

Giuliani facing grand jury in Georgia 2020 election probe

ATLANTA (AP) — Rudy Giuliani faced a special grand jury Wednesday under a judge’s order to appear before the panel investigating attempts by former President Donald Trump and others to overturn his 2020 election defeat in Georgia. News cameras swarmed Giuliani as he stepped out of a limousine Wednesday morning with his attorney, Robert Costello, […]
7 hours ago
Police officers and other officials stand outside the Ryder Trauma Center after a Miami-Dade police...
Associated Press

Miami officer still critical as robbery suspect identified

MIAMI (AP) — A 29-year-old police officer who was shot in the head while trying to stop a robbery suspect in Miami remained in “extremely critical condition” early Wednesday, officials said. Det. Cesar Echaverry was shot Monday night as he and other officers closed in a suspect wanted for an earlier robbery in nearby Broward […]
7 hours ago
FILE - A woman wheels a cart with her purchases out of a Walmart, on Nov. 18, 2020, in Derry, N.H. ...
Associated Press

US retail sales were flat in July as inflation takes a toll

WASHINGTON (AP) — The pace of sales at U.S. retailers was unchanged last month as persistently high inflation and rising interest rates forced many households to spend more cautiously. Retail purchases were flat after having risen 0.8% in June, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Economists had expected a slight increase in July retail sales. Still, […]
7 hours ago
The NASA Artemis rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard leaves the Vehicle Assembly Building movin...
Associated Press

NASA’s moon rocket moved to launch pad for 1st test flight

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA’s new moon rocket arrived at the launch pad Wednesday ahead of its debut flight in less than two weeks. The 322-foot (98-meter) rocket emerged from its mammoth hangar late Tuesday night, drawing crowds of Kennedy Space Center workers. It took nearly 10 hours for the rocket to make the […]
7 hours ago
Janet Murguia, president and CEO of UnidosUS, spoke about her group's "Count on Us" campaign at an ...
Griselda Zetino

Campaign launches to paint ‘accurate narrative about Latinos’ in Arizona

A national campaign aimed at highlighting the contributions Latinos make in Arizona and other parts of the U.S. recently launched in Phoenix.
7 hours ago
FILE - This combination of photos shows logos for social media platforms Facebook and Twitter. Soci...
Associated Press

U.S. midterms bring few changes from social media companies

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Social media companies are offering few specifics as they share their plans for safeguarding the U.S. midterm elections. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are generally staying the course from the 2020 voting season, which was marred by conspiracies and culminated in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Video app […]
7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
US rules out summer COVID boosters to focus on fall campaign