March 29, 2023 – The CDC has updated its COVID-19 booster shot guidelines to clarify that only a single dose of the latest bivalent booster is recommended at this time.
“If you have completed your updated booster dose, you are currently up to date. There is not a recommendation to get another updated booster dose,” the CDC website now explains.
In January, the nation’s expert COVID panel recommended that the U.S. move toward an annual COVID booster shot in the fall, similar to the annual flu shot, that targets the most widely circulating strains of the virus. Recent studies have shown that booster strength wanes after a few months, spurring discussions of whether people at high risk of getting a severe case of COVID may need more than one annual shot.
September was the last time a new booster dose was recommended, when, at the time, the bivalent booster was released, offering new protection against Omicron variants of the virus. Health officials’ focus is now shifting from preventing infections to reducing the likelihood of severe ones, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
“The bottom line is that there is some waning of protection for those who got boosters more than six months ago and haven’t had an intervening infection,” said Bob Wachter, MD, head of the University of California-San Francisco’s Department of Medicine, according to the Chronicle. “But the level of protection versus severe infection continues to be fairly high, good enough that people who aren’t at super high risk are probably fine waiting until a new booster comes out in the fall.”
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that many people have been asking their doctors to give them another booster, which is not authorized by the FDA.
About 8 in 10 people in the U.S. got the initial set of COVID-19 vaccines, which were first approved in August 2021. But just 16.4% of people in the U.S. have gotten the latest booster that was released in September, CDC data shows.
The number of people testing positive for COVID in the hospital dipped to 5,738 on Wednesday, according to the New York Times tracker, which is a rate last seen in the spring of 2022. Most hospitalizations are occurring among people ages 60 and older. Last week, 2,060 people died due to COVID. The virus is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S.