FDA Authorizes Updated Pfizer and Moderna Boosters That Target Omicron Variant of COVID

·2 min read
vaccine
vaccine

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized updated vaccine booster shots from both Moderna and Pfizer that target the highly-contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19.

On Wednesday, the FDA announced that it sanctioned an updated vaccine formula, the first since the original shots first rolled out back in December 2020 amid the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

The new shots are being referred to as "updated boosters" by the FDA and contain "two messenger RNA (mRNA) components of SARS-CoV-2 virus, one of the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 and the other one in common between the BA.4 and BA.5 lineages of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2."

Pfizer's new vaccine is a 30-microgram dose that is authorized for individuals age 12 and older, while Moderna's updated shot is a 50-microgram dose authorized for people age 18 and older.

Those eligible to receive the shot can get one of the boosters two months after completing their first COVID vaccine, or two months after their most recent booster with the old formula.

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Cropped image of nurse injecting Covid-19 Vaccine to a patient. Female healthcare worker is working at hospital. She is holding syringe.
Cropped image of nurse injecting Covid-19 Vaccine to a patient. Female healthcare worker is working at hospital. She is holding syringe.

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Currently, the United States has 171 million doses of the updated shots ready to go, according to CNBC, which cited the Health and Human Services Department.

Though the shots are ready to be administered, they can only do so after they have been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), CBS News reported.

The CDC's vaccine advisory group is scheduled to vote later this week on whether or not to support recommending the usage of the updated boosters, per the outlet. The director of the CDC must then sign off on the recommendation, CNN added.

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Boy getting a flu or coronavirus vaccine in the clinic
Boy getting a flu or coronavirus vaccine in the clinic

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"The COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters, continue to save countless lives and prevent the most serious outcomes (hospitalization and death) of COVID-19," FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D. said in a statement.

"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," he added.

The FDA noted that "The BA.4 and BA.5 lineages of the Omicron variant are currently causing most cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and are predicted to circulate this fall and winter." The organization also said that it "will work quickly to evaluate future data and submissions to support authorization of bivalent COVID-19 boosters for additional age groups as we receive them."

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments.