Newly updated Covid booster shots designed to target the BA.5 subvariant of omicron should be available within the next three weeks. That raises an important question: who is eligible to get them?
The short answer: Anyone 12 and older who has completed a series of primary vaccinations, a spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells CNBC Make It. You are unlikely to have received another booster dose or not before, the spokesperson says – but if you have not been vaccinated, you will not be eligible for the updated formula until you have completed a primary series of the existing Covid vaccines.
The longer answer is a bit more complex, as it depends on which booster shots are approved and when.
Pfizer’s “bivalent” shot, which targets both the original Covid strain and the BA.5 subvariant of omicron, is expected to be approved first. The CDC says it will likely come with a broadly appropriate portion: the entire group of vaccinated Americans ages 12 and older.
Moderna’s bivalent shot is expected to follow later, most likely in October. It comes with a slightly narrower range of eligibility, at least initially: vaccinated people 18 and older. For both shots, younger pediatric age groups may qualify later, the CDC says.
Those projections are preliminary, at least preliminary. A person familiar with the matter told NBC News on Wednesday that it depends on how much delivery Pfizer and Moderna can produce and roll out next month. If that supply is limited, the shots may be available first to those most at risk, such as the elderly and the immunocompromised.
Federal health officials believe the shots will provide the best level of protection yet against the highly transmissible BA.5 subvariant, especially in the fall and winter when a major wave of Covid infections are expected to hit the US
“It’s going to be very important for people to get the new shot this fall and winter. It’s designed for the virus that’s out there,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House’s Covid Response Coordinator, at a virtual event hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation on Tuesday.
Should I get a fourth booster dose now or wait for the ommicron specific shots?
If you have not yet received your second booster dose, Jha recommends taking it now rather than waiting for the updated boosters. That advice may apply to many people: Of the adults 50 and older who qualify for a second booster shot, only 33.2% have received it, according to the latest CDC data.
“My general feeling is that there is no reason to wait, go get it, even if we are only gone for a few weeks,” said Jha at the Chamber event. He added that people who get a boost now can still get the BA.5 shot in a few months, when their immunity to the booster wears off.
dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, has also emphasized that all Americans should now be vaccinated and boosted if they are not up to date, noting that the country’s approved vaccines still work exceptionally well at treating the disease. prevention of serious illness, hospitalization and death.
“If [people] don’t get vaccinated or they don’t get a boost, they’re going to be in trouble,” Fauci told Los Angeles radio station KNX News 97.1 “KNX In Depth” earlier this month.
As for the BA.5 shot, experts are divided on whether you should get it as soon as you qualify or wait to get it until fall or winter cases increase, in an effort to boost your immunity during that crucial time. months to maximize.
Andy Slavitt, former senior adviser to President Biden’s Covid response team, wrote in Twitter thread on Friday that some experts — including Fauci and Robert Wachter, chair of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco — support the former approach.
“The other opinion is one that no one wants to stand for,” Slavitt wrote. “It’s that since we don’t know the duration of the boost, why not wait until October?”
“For lower risk individuals who want 4 months of coverage (a reasonable minimum expectation), some may choose to wait,” Slavitt added.
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