Optimizing vaccination. FDA leader's strategy

23.09.2023 posted by Admin

FDA leader's strategic vaccination plan for fall

A high-ranking official from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), who is responsible for supervising the approval of new vaccines being released to combat three respiratory viruses this fall and winter, recently mentioned his personal vaccination plan. Dr. Peter Marks, who leads the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, stated that he intends to space out his vaccinations over the next few weeks.

While some individuals have considered getting vaccines for RSV, COVID, and the flu on the same day, Dr. Marks indicated he might choose a different approach. He plans to receive the COVID shot immediately and the flu shot in early October.

Dr. Marks emphasized that he doesn't disagree with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, which allows administering multiple routine vaccines during a single visit, referred to as "coadministration" or "simultaneous administration" of vaccines by medical professionals.

However, he acknowledged that receiving up to three different vaccines simultaneously could result in more side effects, such as increased fatigue or a mild fever, in the days following vaccination. Spacing out the shots by approximately two weeks could reduce the likelihood of interactions and minimize any overlapping side effects, which might be a suitable option for those who are comfortable making multiple trips to the pharmacy or their doctor's office.

Dr. Marks mentioned that he might opt for a slight spacing between his vaccinations, but for individuals facing long distances to vaccination centers, getting all three vaccines at once might not be unreasonable.

Regarding COVID-19 vaccinations, Dr. Marks expressed his preference for receiving the updated COVID-19 vaccine first. He noted that health authorities have been fortunate to have a vaccine that appears effective against the currently circulating virus strains. The FDA selected the strain to target in the current batch of vaccines back in June, enabling vaccine manufacturers to increase production for the upcoming fall rollout.

Dr. Marks cited recent data indicating that these updated vaccines, targeting the XBB.1.5 strain, could also enhance protection against closely-related variants that are now prevalent nationwide, including the highly mutated BA.2.86 variant.

While certain COVID trends have begun to slow in recent weeks following a summer surge, another moderate wave is predicted to occur during the upcoming colder months, potentially peaking earlier than in the previous season. Dr. Marks suggested that health authorities might consider offering an additional vaccine dose to vulnerable groups later in the fall and winter if it appears necessary.

In early October, Dr. Marks plans to receive his annual flu shot, which is slightly later than some other health officials in the Biden administration. The CDC recommends offering flu vaccinations in September or October to ensure optimal protection, as the effectiveness of flu vaccines can diminish over time. Flu season typically peaks between December and February in the United States but can extend into spring.

Current CDC data indicates that flu activity remains at low levels in most parts of the country.

Additionally, some individuals now have new options for RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) immunization this year. Older adults aged 60 and older can receive vaccines developed by Pfizer or GSK, with recommendations to offer these shots as soon as vaccine supply becomes available. RSV infections have begun to increase in certain regions, particularly in the Southeast.

A CDC advisory panel has recommended administering Pfizer's new RSV vaccine during pregnancy to provide protection to newborns during their vulnerable early months. Pregnant individuals are advised to take one dose of the vaccine between weeks 32 and 36 of pregnancy. Furthermore, a new antibody injection from Sanofi and AstraZeneca is available for infants born before the upcoming RSV season.
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