The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) advisory panel will meet Thursday to discuss what the next COVID-19 vaccines should target.
The group will also discuss who should access future vaccines.
“What are we aiming for?” said panel member Dr. Stanley Perlman. “So I think, if the goal is to have no infection, then we failed because people are clearly getting reinfected. So then the question is, what do we want and what the vaccines have been great at, as has prior infection, is keeping people out of the hospital and keeping them from dying.”
The people who are still getting seriously sick from COVID-19 include those over age 75, with compromised immune systems and with multiple health conditions like being extremely overweight.
Some doctors on the advisory panel, like Dr. Paul Offit, believe that's who we need to be focused on with vaccines and anti-viral drugs.
The FDA is proposing going forward that most Americans get one annual COVID-19 shot.
“While I do agree with the notion of yearly vaccine, I think that yearly vaccines really should be directed against those high-risk groups,” Offit said. “I don't think everybody would reasonably get a yearly vaccine.”
He says it will be hard to know which variants to target in the vaccine as we do with the yearly flu vaccine because COVID-19 is a lot harder to predict.
Perlman says he doesn't know if a yearly shot will be optimal either because of how long the vaccine offers immunity.
He said it may be more realistic, so people know when to get vaccinated and then do it.