Biden Administration Eyes Mid-September for New COVID-19 Booster Shot Rollout | Health News

The Biden administration is eyeing mid-September for the rollout of updated COVID-19 vaccines, according to Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials.

“Vaccination is going to continue to be key this year because immunity wanes and because the COVID-19 virus continues to change,” an official said on a call with reporters. “For those reasons, vaccines remain the best protection against hospitalization and death.”

It’s the first time that vaccines for all three of the major fall and winter viruses – flu, COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus – will be available.

The announcement comes as COVID-19 hospitalizations are increasing and the Biden administration hopes to get ahead of any potential fall or winter coronavirus wave with its vaccine campaign.

Moderna, Pfizer and Novavax have developed updated coronavirus vaccines that will target the XBB.1.5 strain, which was responsible for less than 5% of new infections in recent weeks, according to CDC data.

Cartoons on the Coronavirus

The dominant strain circulating now is EG.5 – nicknamed “eris” – that is causing over 20% of new cases.

Eris appears more transmissible and better able to evade immunity provided by vaccines and previous infection, according to the World Health Organization, but it hasn’t been associated with more severe disease.

Another variant to watch is BA.2.86, which quickly caught the attention of both WHO and the CDC. The highly mutated strain is likely not responsible for the recent rise in hospitalizations in the U.S., according to the CDC, but it is too soon to know the new strain’s transmissibility or severity.

Officials believe the updated shots will work against these strains.

“FDA expects that once available, the updated vaccines will similarly provide protection against the most serious outcomes of the disease that may result from currently circulating variants,” one of the officials said.

The CDC’s committee of outside vaccine experts will meet in mid-September to recommend who should get the updated COVID-19 vaccines. The officials noted that for some people, including older or immunocompromised Americans, more than one shot per year may be needed.

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