By Dr. Max Gomez

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — First, it was the flu shot every year. Then, thankfully, there was the COVID vaccine. Then there’s the shingles vaccine and the pneumonia shot.

Now we hear that we may need a COVID booster or even a different COVID vaccine to cover new variants.

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But CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez says, what if we could combine those shots?

Combining different vaccines isn’t all that new. Babies get MMR shots that intermingle measles, mumps and rubella. They also get DPT shots for diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus, while the annual flu shot is actually a mixture of four different strains of the influenza virus.

But combining vaccines isn’t as simple as just mixing a few virus samples together — until now.

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Moderna, the maker of one of the authorized COVID vaccines, announced Thursday positive pre-clinical data showing that they successfully combined mRNAs against the present COVID variant, the respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, and four strains of flu into a single shot. Various combinations of these are either in or about to enter clinical trials.

COVID VACCINE

The trick to these combinations is working out the genetic sequence for the vulnerable part of each of the viruses. Once that’s done, it’s fairly straightforward to make the messenger RNA, mRNA, that codes for those pieces of virus strains. The rest is careful manufacturing and testing of the individual parts and the full mixture before giving it to volunteers.

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This sounds easier than it actually is, but the mRNA platform will allow companies to make vaccines against everything from infectious diseases to heart disease and even cancer. Development and testing will take some time, but this will revolutionize large areas of medicine.

Dr. Max Gomez