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FDA Authorizes Omicron Specific COVID-19 Booster Shots

The FDA has authorized second booster shots for people over 50 and for some people who are immunocompromised.
Justin Sullivan
Getty Images
The FDA has authorized bivalent COVID-19 booster shots that target two strains of the omicron variant.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday authorized new COVID-19 booster shots from Pfizer and Moderna that are omicron specific.

The newer omicron A.4 and BA.5 variants make up 99 percent of new cases in the U.S.

The fast approval by the FDA of the booster shots that target the dominant BA.4 and BA.5 omicron sub variants was highly anticipated amid government efforts to roll out a fall vaccination campaign.

The bivalent vaccine (targets two strains) also protects against the original version of the virus included in all previous shots.

With the number of COVID-19 infections predicted to rise as fall and winter approaches, it’s hoped that the new omicron specific boosters will provide protection against serious illness and death.

The new Moderna booster has been cleared for use as a single dose in anyone aged 18 or older. The new Pfizer-BioNTech booster is authorized for people aged 12 years and up. The omicron specific booster will also be available to anyone two months out from completing their initial vaccination series or last booster shot.

The boosters are expected to be made available to the public starting next week, pending approval by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Assistant News Director, cmacgregor@wvpublic.org

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