Former FDA Commissioner: ‘This Is Likely to Become an Annualized Vaccine for the Majority of Americans’

By Melanie Arter | March 21, 2022 | 1:09pm EDT
A nurse inoculates a man with a booster dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 in Mexico City, on February 15, 2022. (Photo by ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP via Getty Images)
A nurse inoculates a man with a booster dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 in Mexico City, on February 15, 2022. (Photo by ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP via Getty Images)

( - Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Sunday that Americans will likely need to get a COVID vaccine every year, and for those who are vulnerable, they should think about getting it every six months.

“Yeah, look, the data that's coming out shows that the protection from the vaccine, particularly three doses of the vaccine, but even two doses of the vaccine is substantial and durable if you're talking about protection against severe disease and hospitalization, and there's been some recent studies really supporting this,” he told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“But in terms of protection from symptomatic disease and from infection, that does start to wane more immediately because that's dependent upon circulating antibodies, which after a period of time start to decline and aren't as prominent in your blood,” Gottlieb said.

“I think this is really a six month vaccine in terms of providing really meaningful protection against symptomatic disease and infection, and this is likely to become an annualized vaccine for the majority of Americans,” he said.

“I think for those who are vulnerable, you should think about getting a shot every six months while we're in a high-prevalent environment and in fact, the shots are authorized for that use. For people who are immunocompromised, there is authorization right now for a fourth booster,” Gottlieb said.

Whether or not healthy adults need to get another booster, or their fourth shot of the COVID vaccine, “depends on what the environment is,” Gottlieb said.

If we're in a low-prevalent environment, as we're likely to be this summer, I think most Americans who had three doses of vaccine will have sufficient protection going through the summer.

We don't, after all, get a flu vaccine in the summertime, even though the flu vaccine only affords about six months of protection, because the flu season only lasts about six months through the fall in the winter, so you don't worry about contracting a respiratory pathogen in the summertime, and I think the risk is going to be pretty low this summer.

I think after we have this bump in infection, we're gonna get down to low levels. Heading into the fall, I suspect a lot of Americans will want to get another vaccine. You know, some people are going to call it a fourth booster.

I think it's heading towards this vaccine becoming an annualized vaccine, at least for the foreseeable future, until we really understand the epidemiology of this disease and understand whether this coronavirus starts to recede into the background, like the four circulating strains of coronavirus that we've become accustomed to have.

When asked whether he’s concerned about a wave because of the BA.2 variant, Gottlieb said, “I don't think we're going to see a big wave of infection, but we're going to see some uptick from where we are right now. Right now, we're at very low levels of infection. 

“We have nine cases per 100,000 people per day. Those are levels that we haven't seen since last June. There are about 20,000 people thousand currently hospitalized, and I think we're going to continue to see low levels of infection through the summer, but before we get there, we're probably going to see some tick-up of infection like the Europeans are seeing right now, maybe not as pronounced,” he said.

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