On Aug. 31, 2022, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized updated COVID-19 booster shots from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech that target the dominant BA.4 and highly contagious BA.5 coronavirus Omicron subvariants. Both modified vaccines still target the original coronavirus strain.

The FDA authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech modified booster for people age 12 and older and the Moderna shot for those age 18 and older. According to the FDA, individuals who have completed their primary vaccination series at least two months prior are eligible for the updated shots.

“As we head into fall and begin to spend more time indoors, we strongly encourage anyone who is eligible to consider receiving a booster dose with a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine to provide better protection against currently circulating variants.” – FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D.

Health officials expect the updated boosters to provide increased protection against the BA.5 Omicron subvariant. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), BA.5 makes up nearly 90% of all new COVID-19 cases in the country. Experts have said the updated vaccines will help protect older people and those who are immunocompromised.

What’s Next?

The government has already started working on the fall rollout, which could begin in the next few days after the CDC’s outside expert panel meets to make a final recommendation.

Pfizer-BioNTech has some doses ready to ship immediately and said it could deliver up to 15 million doses by Sept. 9. Additionally, the U.S. government has secured 105 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s updated shots and 66 million doses of Moderna’s booster to help ward off a likely surge in COVID-19 infections as schools resume and Americans spend more time indoors.

As fall begins, health experts continue to emphasize the importance of staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. Individuals interested in learning more about COVID-19 booster shots should speak with their primary care provider.

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