The Food and Drug Administration approved Covid booster shots targeting the omicron BA.5 subvariant on Wednesday, as the United States braces for another wave of infections this fall and winter. It is the first time the FDA has approved a new vaccine formula since the original shots were introduced in December 2020. The new boosters are expected to be available in pharmacies after Labor Day weekend.
As CNBC reports:
Pfizer’s new booster dose is authorized for people ages 12 and older, while Moderna’s new shots are authorized for adults ages 18 and older. The eligible age groups can receive the boosters two months after completing their primary series or their most recent booster with the old shots.
The U.S. will no longer use the original vaccines as booster doses for individuals ages 12 and older now that the the updated shots have been authorized, according to the FDA.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has to sign off on the boosters before pharmacies can give them to patients. The CDC’s independent advisory committee is scheduled to meet Thursday and Friday to review the data and issue its recommendations for health-care providers.
The redesigned boosters, according to public health officials, will provide longer-lasting protection against the virus and reduce hospitalizations this fall and winter. The new boosters target both the original strain that emerged in China more than two years ago, known as the “wild type,” and the omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants, which are now the dominant variants in the United States. Bivalent vaccines are shots that target two different strains.