Recent buzz about annual boosters will lead to more questions about COVID-19 vaccines.
About 70% of the US population completed the primary series...but only 16% have received a bivalent booster.
Complex vaccine recommendations...presumed immunity...side effects...and COVID-19 message fatigue continue to lead to hesitancy.
Listen to concerns and share the latest vaccine guidance.
Explain that there are still thousands of new hospitalizations and hundreds of deaths due to COVID-19 daily...and COVID-19 vaccines are the best tool we have for reducing these.
Adults who’ve had a bivalent booster continue to have a lower risk of urgent care visits and hospitalizations than those who haven’t...even with circulating variants.
Continue to recommend age-appropriate COVID-19 vaccines for the primary series and boosters. Benefits still outweigh rare risks.
But for now, don’t give more than one bivalent booster to any patient...even if they’re over 65 or immunocompromised. There’s not enough evidence of benefit yet. Expect FDA and CDC to reassess this soon.
Later this year, expect to see bivalent vaccines for the primary series...an annual booster...and fewer vaccine options to limit errors.
Remind patients that there’s ongoing safety monitoring and analysis of vaccine data...including stroke risk.
Point out that the stroke concern with the Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent booster surfaced in one safety monitoring system. But it didn’t pan out in other databases or other countries.
Plus acute COVID-19 infection is linked to higher risk of stroke.
Continue to give any COVID-19 vaccine with other vaccines (pneumococcal, etc) if needed. Advise that combo flu and COVID-19 vaccines are in the works...but won’t likely be ready this year.
Get our resource, COVID-19 Vaccines, to compare options...and our resource, Communicating About COVID-19 Vaccination, to address other concerns (myocarditis, etc).
- https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/acip/meetings/slides-2023-02-22-24.html (3-27-23)
- https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/index.html (3-27-23)
Prescriber's Letter. April 2023, No. 390408