The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday endorsed updated COIVD-19 boosters, opening the way for a fall vaccination campaign that could blunt a winter surge if enough Americans roll up their sleeves.
The new boosters targeting today’s most common omicron strains should begin arriving in pharmacies and clinics within days.
The decision by CDC Director Rochelle Walensky came shortly after the agency’s advisers voted in favor of the recommendation.
The shots “can help restore protection that has waned since previous vaccination and were designed to provide broader protection,” she said in a statement.
The tweaked shots made by Pfizer and rival Moderna offer Americans a chance to get the most up-to-date protection at yet another critical period in the pandemic. They’re combination or “bivalent” shots — half the original vaccine and half protection against the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron versions now causing nearly all COVID-19 infections.
The CDC’s advisers struggled with who should get the new boosters and when because only a similarly tweaked vaccine, not the exact recipe, has been studied in people so far.
But ultimately the panel deemed the updated injections the best option considering the U.S. still is experiencing tens of thousands of COVID-19 cases and about 500 deaths every day — even before an expected new winter wave.