FDA Official Delays Timing of COVID-19, Flu, and RSV Vaccinations
In a recent call with FDA stakeholders, Dr. Peter Marks, the director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, revealed that he plans to space out his COVID-19, flu, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccinations over the coming weeks, despite guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) allowing for simultaneous administration of multiple vaccines.
While Dr. Marks acknowledged that receiving all three vaccines on the same day is possible, he expressed concerns about potential side effects and the possibility of confusing side effects from one vaccine with another. By spacing out the shots by approximately two weeks, he believes the chance of interactions and side effects could be minimized.
Dr. Marks emphasized that his decision is a personal choice and does not contradict the CDC’s guidance. He also stated that spacing out the vaccines could be a good option for individuals who are willing to make multiple trips to the pharmacy or their doctor’s office.
Regarding the updated COVID-19 vaccine, Dr. Marks highlighted its efficacy against the currently circulating strains of the virus and referred to it as a “bird in the hand.” The FDA selected the strain to target in the current batch of shots back in June, allowing vaccine manufacturers to ramp up production for a fall rollout. Recent data suggests that these updated vaccines will also provide protection against highly mutated variants like the BA.2.86 variant.
Dr. Marks mentioned the possibility of additional doses for vulnerable groups later in the fall and winter if deemed necessary. However, at present, health authorities are recommending a single dose.
As for the flu shot, Dr. Marks plans to receive it in early October, which aligns with the CDC’s recommendation to offer flu vaccination during September or October. He explained that flu shot protection can wane, and receiving it too early in the season may not offer optimal coverage. Flu season typically peaks between December and February.
In terms of RSV vaccinations, older adults aged 60 and above have new options with vaccines developed by Pfizer or GSK. The CDC advises administering the shots as soon as vaccine supply becomes available. RSV infections have started to accelerate in certain regions, particularly in the Southeast. A CDC panel also recommended administering Pfizer’s new RSV vaccine during pregnancy to protect newborns during their most vulnerable months.
Overall, Dr. Marks’ decision to space out his vaccinations reflects his cautious approach to minimize potential interactions and side effects. It is a personal choice guided by his own evaluation of the risks and benefits of each vaccine.