US eyes annual shots as updated COVID-19 vaccines roll out

A 6 year-old child is comforted by her mother as she receives her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by a medical assistant at the Child Health Associates office in Novi, Michigan on Nov 3, 2021. (JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP)

WASHINGTON / BERLIN / ROME – The United States is likely to start recommending COVID-19 vaccines annually, health officials said on Tuesday, as new boosters designed to fight currently circulating variants of the coronavirus roll out.

By the end of this week, 90 percent of Americans will live within 8 km of sites carrying updated vaccines, US health secretary Xavier Becerra said at a White House briefing

By the end of this week, 90 percent of Americans will live within 8 km of sites carrying updated vaccines, US health secretary Xavier Becerra said at a White House briefing.

Officials said people could get the new boosters this fall or winter alongside their regular annual flu shots.

President Joe Biden said separately in a statement that for most Americans, "that means one COVID-19 shot, once a year, each fall."

White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said in the briefing that for "a large majority of Americans, we are moving to a point where a single annual COVID-19 shot should provide a high degree of protection against serious illness all year. That's an important milestone."

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky said even with the seven-day average of COVID hospitalizations down 14 percent to 4,500 per day, annual shots could save thousands of lives.

A woman receives a COVID-19 vaccine next to a car at a drive-thru vaccination center outside an IKEA store in Berlin, Germany, on July 29, 2021. (STEFANIE LOOS / AFP)


Germany will soon drop mask requirements on commercial flights introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said on Tuesday, after flagship airline Lufthansa complained that the rule was no longer enforceable.

Authorities will focus instead on making sure people wear face-and-mouth coverings on public transport in Germany, Lauterbach said in Berlin, after the coalition government agreed to axe the measure.

Germany is well prepared for a potential rise in cases this autumn, according to the minister, who said mask-wearing rules may return in some indoor or outdoor spaces if infections surge.

Restaurants owners and event organizers could also be asked to limit the number of guests again.

A medical worker vaccinates a patient with a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the Claudia Comte exhibition in the Museum of Contemporary Art "Castello di Rivoli", near Turin, Italy, on May 27, 2021. (MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP)


The Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA) on Tuesday gave its approval to the distribution of two coronavirus vaccines specifically tailored to confront the spread of the Omicron variant of the virus.

The approval from AIFA came after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) last week endorsed the use of the updated Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines and concluded the Comirnaty and Spikevax vaccines were safe for use in individuals over the age of 12.

Italy began distributing COVID-19 vaccines in December 2020, but the new boosters represent the first time the country has approved a coronavirus vaccine dose engineered for a specific variant of the virus.

As in the past, priority will be given to those aged over 60 or other residents with health conditions that make them specifically vulnerable to COVID-19.

Previous post IAEA urges ‘safety zone’ around Zaporizhzhia nuke plant
Next post Spain accused of ‘environmental assault’ on wetlands