A committee of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted to recommend that future COVID-19 vaccines should be made to target the same viral strain or strains for both initial shots and boosters, regardless of the manufacturer. The vote was unanimous: 21-0.

The idea behind the revamp is to make vaccination less complicated and confusing. The ultimate goal would be to get more people vaccinated.

"Because of [the coronavirus'] rapid evolution we've needed to adjust our approach over time, and we're now in a reasonable place to reflect on the development of the COVID-19 vaccines to date to see if we can simplify the approach to vaccination," said Dr. Peter Marks, FDA's top vaccine official, in remarks at the beginning of the all-day meeting.

He added that the goals is "to facilitate the process of optimally vaccinating and protecting the entire population moving forward,"

Only 15% of people in the U.S. have received the latest bivalent COVID booster, which targets the original strain of the virus and omicron BA.5, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only 40% of people 65 and older, who are at higher risk for serious COVID, have received the booster.

"We can't keep doing what we're doing. We have to move on," said Dr. Bruce Gellin, a temporary voting member on the panel who is the chief of global public health strategy at the Rockefeller Foundation. "I think this is a reasonable approach."

During the discussion the FDA's Marks acknowledge the "lackluster" results in rollout of the booster. [Copyright 2023 NPR]