CDC May Recommend Spring COVID Booster for At-Risk Groups

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Feb. 16, 2024 – A CDC advisory committee will meet this month to decide whether to recommend a spring COVID booster for vulnerable groups such as the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. 

Members of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices are expected to vote Feb. 28 on the spring booster, NBC News reported, citing an unnamed source close to the committee. In the past, the CDC has usually followed guidance from its advisory groups.

The spring COVID vaccine would be the same one approved last fall that targets the XBB.1.5 subvariant. That vaccine also works against the JN.1 subvariant that is now prevalent in the United States. 

"The discussion will be aimed at the people who are most accepting of public health recommendations," said William Schaffner, MD, an infectious diseases expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. "The committee, in its rigorous fashion since the question has come up, will be considering a second dose for people at high risk or for people who wish to get it."

Americans did not fully embrace the COVID booster introduced last fall. The CDC said on Feb. 9 that only 21.9% of Americans over 18 had received the fall booster, with 42% of those over 65 receiving it.

Advisory committees in Canada and the United Kingdom have already recommended spring COVID vaccines for seniors, people in congregate care facilities, and people over 6 months old who have weakened immune systems.