Not enough data to support multiple annual COVID. boosters

There’s NOT enough data to support multiple annual Covid vaccines, CDC advisers say

  • ACIP recommends CDC to repeal its vaccine guidance, citing lack of evidence
  • Current recommendations are for over-50s and immunocompromised to get more shots 
  • READ MORE: Leading panel of experts say CDC is unfit for purpose 

A leading Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expert panel says people with weakened immune systems do not need more than one annual Covid booster. 

The Advisory Committee For Immunization Practices (ACIP) said Friday that there is no reason for the elderly or immunocompromised to receive multiple shots in one year.

This goes against current CDC guidance, which recommends people most vulnerable to the virus to receive shots more often than once a year.  

They did recommend the group who are most at risk from the virus receive a dose each fall, just before the winter season where the virus generally surges.

It is yet another setback for America’s leading public health agencies, whose trust from the public has fallen dramatically during the Covid pandemic.

The Advisory Committee For Immunization Practices (ACIP) said Friday that there is no reason for the elderly or immunocompromised to receive multiple shots in one year.

In the spring of 2022, the CDC recommended immunocompromised and people over age 50 receive an additional shot if they had received their first booster at least four months earlier.

The CDC advisers did not vote on new recommendations for how the COVID-19 shots should be administered on Friday.

But ACIP advised showing flexibility in recommendations for those with compromised or weakened immune systems to allow more frequent doses for those most vulnerable to severe COVID.

Both the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are working on how to best update COVID vaccines to target circulating variants annually, similar to flu vaccine campaigns.

About 53.3million people in the United States – around 16 percent of the US population – have received a Covid booster shot since updated versions of the vaccines were authorized in September.

That compares with 230million people, around 70 percent of the population, that received an initial two-dose series of the Covid vaccines.

The CDC’s guidance being shunned by its own panel of experts is another setback for the beleaguered agency.

A report in January led by Julie Gerberding, who served as the CDC’s director from 2002 to 2009, said the agency needed a reset and was not fit for purpose.

‘The big picture here is, we all see the need for a reset of the agency,’ Julie Gerberding, who served at the CDC’s director from 2002 to 2009 and now a CSIS member, told CNN.

‘Some of the reset has to be structural, some of it needs to be activity that only Congress can really manage and that has to do with how the budget is structured, the size and scope of the budget and the flexibilities or lack thereof.’

Report: CDC is not fit for purpose, has lost public’s trust and needs a complete overhaul

The embattled agency has faced a rocky few years marred by repeated troubles during the Covid pandemic.

Another hindrance the agency faces, according to the report is that it is based in Atlanta, more than 500 miles from the Nation’s Capital.

While communication is simplified in the digital age, experts fear the proximity of CDC from the federal government hub adds unnecessary barriers.

An NBC poll last year found that only 44 percent of Americans, and just one-in-five Republicans – trusted the agency on Covid.

Many lost trust in the agency because of its support for school closures, letting mask orders on public transportation last too long, and for its slow reaction to changes in the pandemic landscape.

This is the second major call for an overhaul of America’s leading public health agency.

In August, Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the agency, internally told her staff the agency must focus more on public health issues and less on the publishing of research.

She had taken her post in early 2021, mid-way through the pandemic.

Experts said the CDC was slow to recognize how much virus was entering the US from Europe, to recommend people wear masks, to say the virus can spread through the air, and to ramp up systematic testing for new variants.

The decision resulted from a review Walensky ordered in April after the CDC faced heavy criticism for its mixed messaging on the Covid pandemic.

The agency gave muddled and confusing recommendations on masking and other mitigation efforts.

The guidance during the pandemic has been ‘confusing and overwhelming,’ according to the CDC briefing document provided by the agency to the New York Times.

The review also found that the CDC often takes too long to publish data people needed to make decisions and that the agency should be more transparent about what it does and doesn’t know, a CDC official told the Wall Street Journal.

There were staff shortages too with those tasked with leading the CDC’s covid team rotating out after a few months.

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