On Wednesday, the United States approved the first update to COVID-19 vaccines, which are booster doses that target today’s most common omicron strain. Shots could start within a few days.
The FDA’s action modifies the recipe for shots made by Pfizer and rival Moderna, which have already saved millions of lives. The modified boosters are intended to decrease yet another winter surge — and to aid in the control of the BA.5 omicron relative, which continues to spread widely.
“These updated boosters present us with an opportunity to get ahead” of the next COVID-19 wave, said FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf.
Until now, COVID-19 vaccines have targeted the original coronavirus strain, following the existence of wildly different mutants. The new boosters in the United States are combination, or “bivalent,” shots. They contain half of the original vaccine recipe and half of the protection against the newest omicron versions, BA.4 and BA.5, which are thought to be the most contagious yet.
The aim of the combination is to improve cross-protection against multiple variants. “It really provides the broadest opportunity for protection,” Pfizer vaccine chief Annaliesa Anderson told The Associated Press.
Public Health Seattle-King County released what local health officials know about the new boosters for our region:
Who is eligible for the updated boosters?
The vaccines are for people 12 years and older.
Both Pfizer and Moderna have produced updated booster vaccines. Pfizer’s updated booster vaccine is for people 12 years and older. Moderna’s is for people 18 years and older.
When will the new shots be available?
On September 1, the applications will be reviewed by the CDC’s independent expert panel, and if they recommend the vaccines, the CDC will make the final decision on the use of these boosters.
Furthermore, an independent panel of Western states will conduct a review. It may take a few more days for the CDC to issue recommendations and guidance. If the vaccines are recommended by the CDC, doses will start to be delivered to the states after Labor Day.
Where can I get the new boosters?
The Public Health vaccination site at the Auburn Outlet Collection Mall will have both the Pfizer and Moderna updated boosters once they have finished the approval process. Pharmacies may also have the updated booster but check before going about availability.