Written and medically reviewed by Dorcas Morak, Pharm.DA twenty-one member panel from the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) has unanimously voted to simplify the COVID-19 vaccination process. They agree that the monovalent COVID-19 vaccine should be phased out in favor of bivalent vaccines. Their decision was fueled by the improved effectiveness of the bivalent vaccine against the COVID-19 virus and even against the newer Omicron variants. Regardless of their vaccination status, everyone will be able to receive a bivalent shot. Below are some of the conclusions they made and the reason for the conclusion.
Why was monovalent phased out to favor bivalent?
Bivalent offers better protection because it contains strains that match current circulating strains. As a result, the bivalent COVID-19 vaccine is a better choice to protect people against severe disease.
What benefits will the updated COVID shot have?
An updated COVID shot will simplify the COVID vaccination process. It will lead to ease of administration for the patients and the provider. It will give everyone access to the shot that contains circulating strain with better protection.
What is the existing COVID-19 vaccination schedule?
The current COVID-19 vaccination schedule is to receive a monovalent vaccine as your primary series. The monovalent COVID vaccine only targets the original SARS-CoV-2 virus. Then, you receive a bivalent booster dose when due, if eligible. The bivalent COVID vaccine targets both the original strain and the Omicron variants.
How will the COVID-19 vaccination schedule be affected by this review?
A bivalent COVID vaccine will be used for the primary series, which implies there won't be a need for monovalence again. In May 2022, the CDC estimated that about 91% of Americans had immunity to COVID from vaccination or prior infection. Giving bivalent shots will be the best way to boost this pre-existing immunity.
The committee recommends a clearer and broader COVID vaccine schedule. The recommendation will have some young children, seniors, and the immunocompromised get multiple-shot vaccine series annually. Those who have been vaccinated previously or have had COVID will get one COVID booster dose annually.
Is this FDA recommendation final?
Though the panel recommended relegating the monovalent vaccine, their decision is still being determined. The FDA will need to approve the recommendation before implementation.
How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine in preventing hospitalization?
This study shows that the monovalent booster has a 25.2% effectiveness score in preventing hospitalizations compared to 58.7% in the bivalent booster. The bivalent COVID vaccine is also more effective in preventing hospitalization and death in those over the age of 65.
How can I schedule a COVID booster?
You can schedule your COVID booster online and get the vaccine at the CVS, Rite Aid, or Walgreens pharmacy near you.
Use the rxless discount card to get your COVID-19 vaccines up to 88% off the retail price. Check out how the free discount card works here.