The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday signed off on updated Covid booster shots from Pfizer and Moderna that will better target newer variants of the virus ahead of the winter.
Officials say the new boosters will better combat today’s most common strain of the virus, Omicron, ahead of any spike in cases that may come this winter.
The vote of confidence from CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky came a day after the.
Walensky said the new shots ‘can help restore protection that has waned since previous vaccination and were designed to provide broader protection.’
People who have received their primary two doses of either vaccine, as well as those who have received the initial two doses and one or two boosters, will be eligible for the updated vaccines as long as its been two months since their last shot.
Until now, Americans have only been able to receive an inoculation against the original strain of the virus.
The updated shots are a combination, or ‘bivalent’ shot, containing half of the original Covid vaccine and half protection against the BA.4 or BA. 5 Omicron variant that has now become widespread in the US.
The latter, BA.5, currently makes up nearly all Covid cases in the US, and is the most contagious form of the virus yet, according to the CDC.
While CDC advisers struggled to determine which Americans should be eligible for the new booster, they all agreed it was invaluable ahead of the winter months, when they expect another wave of the virus to hit as immunity from the older shots wears off.
‘I think they’re going to be an effective tool for disease prevention this fall and into the winter,’ said CDC adviser Dr Matthew Daley.
The new shots are only to be used as a booster, and will not be given to anyone if it is their first shot against Covid.
The FDA has cleared Pfizer’s booster for people 12 and older, while Moderna’s has only been authorized for adults. Pfizer plans to ask the FDA to authorize the new boosters for children ages 5 to 11 in early October, the company said.
The US government has purchased 170 million doses of the updated booster from both companies, and over 200 million people are eligible to receive them for free.
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