Viruses are somewhat like toddlers: just when you get used to them behaving in a specific way, they change on you. The Coronavirus is no exception, with the Delta mutation throwing people for a loop last spring just as mask mandates were being lifted amid the newly available vaccinations. And the Omicron variant also proved to be even more contagious, spreading through the country at shockingly fast rates that are only now beginning to decrease.
Now, as the world approaches the second anniversary of the declaration of the Covid-19 pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11th, more nations are rolling out — or are discussing the possibility of — fourth doses of coronavirus vaccine for their most vulnerable. And in the United States, leading public health officials say they are “very carefully” monitoring if a fourth dose might be needed, although they emphasized it was too premature to be discussing when a potential fourth dose of coronavirus vaccine for most people would make the most sense.
Israel was the first nation to roll out fourth doses, announcing in December that adults 60 and older, medical workers, and people with compromised immune systems were eligible to receive the extra shot if at least four months have passed since their third dose. More recently, the Public Health Agency of Sweden announced last week that second booster doses are recommended for everyone 80 and older in the country. And the United Kingdom’s Department of Health and Social Care announced Monday that an extra booster dose of coronavirus vaccine will be offered in the spring to adults 75 and older, residents in care homes for older adults, and immunosuppressed people 12 and older.
The FDA is considering whether it will need to authorize a fourth dose of some Covid vaccines this fall, when the spread is expected to pick up again. CNN health reporter @JacqEHoward has more. pic.twitter.com/KJQjFmwStA
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) February 21, 2022
A potential fall timeline coincides with the administration of flu shots, which could be convenient for people and makes sense scientifically because respiratory viruses, like the coronavirus and influenza, tend to peak in the winter months that follow.
— GMA3: What You Need To Know (@ABCGMA3) February 15, 2022
If or when the FDA authorizes a fourth dose for the public, the next step would be for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to review the data before making a recommendation for use, as the agency has done for other coronavirus vaccine recommendations.