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With BA.5 boosters, Biden officials herald the start of annual COVID shots

Enlarge / Syringes filled with COVID-19 vaccine sit on a table at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic on April 06, 2022 in San Rafael, California. (credit: Getty | Justin Sullivan)

The updated COVID-19 boosters targeting the BA.4/5 subvariants now rolling out nationwide are meant to head off a surge of the disease this fall and winter—but they are also meant to signal a shift in the nation’s pandemic response, which is moving out of an emergency phase to a place with routine, potentially annual vaccinations against a virus that is clearly not going away.

In a White House press briefing Tuesday, top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci along with other Biden administration officials, repeatedly pushed the idea that this new phase will see COVID-19 vaccinations follow the footsteps of seasonal flu vaccines.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that—looking forward with the COVID-19 pandemic, in the absence of a dramatically different variant—we likely are moving towards a path with a vaccination cadence similar to that of the annual influenza vaccine, with annual, updated COVID-19 shots matched to the currently circulating strains for most of the population,” Fauci said.

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