The most effective way to maintain public health as COVID-19 becomes endemic is to move towards a regular COVID booster schedule, according to a new position paper from ECRI, the nation’s largest nonprofit patient safety organization.
Fewer people have received COVID-19 vaccine boosters compared to the primary vaccine series. Six months after authorization, only 30% of individuals eligible for vaccination have received a booster dose in addition to a full primary vaccination series.
“Moving to a regular vaccine schedule will increase clarity and confidence about what actions to take and when, compared to the current piecemeal, wait-and-see approach,” said Marcus Schabacker, MD, PhD, president and CEO of ECRI. “Transparency and clear guidance are critical to maintaining public support and trust.”
ECRI experts say mental fatigue and a desire for normalcy are likely driving increasing COVID apathy. They say unclear guidance and near-constant changes regarding who, when, and how often individuals need boosters can magnify this apathy and cause the public to completely disengage.
“For mRNA vaccines, boosters can be safely administered at regular intervals to address emerging variants, similar to the flu vaccine,” said Marcus Lynch, PhD, MBA, senior manager of clinical excellence and safety at ECRI. “A regular booster schedule may help promote uptake, further decreasing COVID’s prevalence.”
According to ECRI, one of the main goals of vaccination boosters in an endemic is to reduce the prevalence of a virus to levels that make it possible for society to live with it. The best way to do so, experts say, is with a regular booster schedule guided by evidence and data.