Who Should Get a COVID Vaccine This Year?

Reuters | By Michael Erman

(Reuters) - The U.S. drug regulator authorized updated COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and its partner BioNTech as well as from Moderna on Monday as the country prepares to start an autumn vaccination campaign as soon as this week. A third vaccine from Novavax remains under review.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the shots for those aged 12 and above, and authorized them for emergency use in children aged 6 months through 11 years. Advisers to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are set to meet on Tuesday to discuss recommendations on who should get the vaccines this year. CDC Director Mandy Cohen said last month she expects the shots to be given annually, but not all doctors agree everyone needs them each year.

How is this year's vaccine different from last year?

Pfizer with BioNTech, Moderna and Novavax all have created new versions of their COVID-19 vaccines. Unlike last year's booster shot that included the original strain of the virus and the then-dominant Omicron variant, this year's shot targets only XBB.1.5, the predominant variant through most of 2023.

The companies have said their retooled vaccines have been shown in early testing to work against newer Omicron subvariants now circulating, including the highly mutated BA.2.86.

Should seniors, the immunocompromised and pregnant people get the shot this year?

There is broad consensus among doctors that these groups should receive at least an annual COVID-19 vaccine to protect against the virus because of their elevated risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death. For instance, the British government's vaccine committee said only adults 65 and older and some of these other categories will be offered the shot as they are the most likely to benefit…

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