Updated COVID vaccines will be available later this week, recommended for everyone six months and up

Healthcare worker COVID Vaccine Eric Lee for The Washington Post via Getty Images
Healthcare worker COVID Vaccine Eric Lee for The Washington Post via Getty Images

A new, fourth round of COVID-19 booster shots was approved Tuesday, following the recommendation of federal health agencies, which will make the vaccines available to Americans later this week. On Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) signed off on the vaccines designed by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) followed suit this afternoon, with CDC director Mandy Cohen recommending updated vaccination for "everyone 6 months and older to better protect you and your loved ones."

The vaccines are designed with mRNA technology that produces immunity against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Although the virus has gone through dozens of mutations over the years, some giving it a more infectious advantage over its ancestors, the vaccines are predicted to work against the strains that are currently spreading, especially those in the XBB family. This includes dominating variants like EG.5 (nicknamed Eris) and FL.1.5.1 (nicknamed Fornax.)

The vaccines are even predicted to work against the strain known as Pirola, (BA.2.86), which is a highly mutated strain and therefore could pose some immune evasiveness. Its genetic drift is significantly different from BA.4 and BA.5, the variants last year's bivalent boosters were targeted against. However, not many cases have been found globally yet, with BNO News counting approximately 107 as of Sept. 11. Thankfully, it seems the shots will neutralize the variant regardless.

There is a third COVID vaccine, known as Novavax, that has not yet been approved by the FDA or CDC. Flu shots and vaccines that target RSV are also available this fall and winter. All three vaccines can prevent hospitalization and death from these pathogenic viruses.