FDA Authorizes Added Bivalent Booster

Although the coming summer months will likely reveal a decline in the number of COVID-19 infections, the virus is still associated with 1,300 deaths each week according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration accordingly authorized an additional bivalent booster shot for adults over 65 and people with a compromised immune system earlier this week. 

According to a recent New York Times report,  the added bivalent booster should be given to eligible patients over 65 who have not had a bivalent booster within four months.  People who are immunocompromised may receive a bivalent booster vaccine two months after their last shot and unvaccinated people may get a single dose of the bivalent booster.  COVID-19 continues to carry a serious risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death for many people.

The bivalent booster targets Omicron variants of the coronavirus currently circulating.  But according to CDC data, only 43 percent of people over 65 have received a bivalent booster.  The booster offers protection from severe illness and a reduced risk of infection for a period of three to four months.  The FDA is expected to make a recommendation for people younger than 65 after its June advisory meeting, based on the specific COVID-19 strains circulating at that time. 

The Omicron sub-variant XBB.1.5 is predominantly in circulation now, and the FDA will likely update the variant the bivalent vaccine targets this summer, ahead of the fall respiratory virus season, according to CNBC’s latest Health and Science report.  The World Health Organization describes XBB.1.5 as the most transmissible COVID variant to date and recommends COVID-19 boosters for high-risk adults 6 to 12 months after their last dose. 

Learn more about Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommendations for an additional COVID-19 booster dose this Spring for individuals at high risk of severe illness by following this link.