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US health officials propose once-a-year COVID-19 vaccines for most Americans

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WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. health officials want to make COVID-19 vaccinations more like the annual flu shot.The Food and Drug Administration on Monday proposed a simplified approach for future vaccination efforts, allowing most adults and children to get a once-a-year shot to protect against the mutating virus.This means Americans would no longer have to keep track of how many shots they’ve received or how many months it’s been since their last booster.The proposal comes as boosters have become a hard sell.

While more than 80% of the U.S. population has had at least one vaccine dose, only 16% of those eligible have received the latest boosters authorized in August.The FDA will ask its panel of outside vaccine experts to weigh in at a meeting Thursday.

The agency is expected to take their advice into consideration while deciding future vaccine requirements for manufacturers.In documents posted online, FDA scientists say many Americans now have "sufficient preexisting immunity" against the coronavirus because of vaccination, infection or a combination of the two.

That baseline of protection should be enough to move to an annual booster against the latest strains in circulation and make COVID-19 vaccinations more like the yearly flu shot, according to the agency.For adults with weakened immune systems and very small children, a two-dose combination may be needed for protection.

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