White House Says Most People Will Need A COVID Booster Vaccine Every Year

Dr. Ashish Jha, White House COVID-19 response coordinator, confirmed at a press briefing Tuesday that Americans should expect to get annual booster vaccines against the virus until further notice.

“I think for most Americans, it’s a once-a-year shot,” Jha told a reporter who asked how often people should expect the government to advise booster doses, as it’s doing now with the new bivalent vaccine that targets both the original viral strain and the new omicron variants that have taken over.

“For a majority of Americans, who are not in the highest risk group ― once-a-year COVID vaccine,” he continued. “I’m not saying forever. I don’t know how long. Obviously, we’ll see where the virus goes.”

He added that if the data suggests it’s beneficial, high-risk and older adults may be advised to have additional doses throughout the year.

Jha’s remarks come weeks after President Joe Biden and others in the administration began referring to the booster shot as an annual inoculation and thinking of it like the flu shot.

“For a majority of Americans, we’ve already gotten into a once-a-year rhythm,” Jha said Tuesday, referring to the booster shots that were rolled out late last year. “All we did by calling it an annual COVID-19 vaccine is call it what it already becomes.”

The current push for Americans ages 12 and up to get the bivalent vaccine comes ahead of major travel for the fall and winter holidays and a rise in indoor activities as the weather cools. Both are expected to increase COVID-19 transmission, similar to the last two years around this time.

Jha encouraged everyone eligible for the new vaccine to receive it before Halloween to ensure their immune system has time to generate its benefits before Thanksgiving. But so far, only around 7.6 million Americans have received the new dose.