The US Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday authorized a second bivalent booster that targets new versions of the omicron variant for adults age 65 and older, as well as those who are immunocompromised.
For people who are age 65 and up, the FDA authorized another booster at least four months after your last shot. For those who have a weakened immune system, they can get one at least two months after their last dose.
The FDA’s announcement for some adults is an update to its overall plan for the country’s new COVID-19 vaccine campaign once the pandemic public health emergency expires. The FDA added Tuesday that it’ll decide in June which strain of COVID-19 to target in the next vaccine formula for the fall and winter season so the rest of the population may expect to get another booster this fall or winter.
The country is also officially moving away from the monovalent or “original” vaccine formulas, meaning people who haven’t had any vaccine yet can get a single shot of one of the bivalent or updated mRNA formulas.
The updated boosters of Moderna’s and Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccines have already been available to adults and children, but some have argued older adults should be offered another shot sooner because advanced age gives you the highest risk of developing severe disease.
The extra dose won’t technically be available to older adults and people with weakened immune systems until the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially signs off. The CDC has a meeting scheduled Wednesday for its advisory committee to discuss COVID-19 vaccine policy, which you can watch online starting at 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT. Because the public health agency typically follows vaccine authorizations from the FDA, we can expect an official recommendation by this week.
What everyone should know about the next COVID vaccine
The public health emergency for COVID-19 will expire in May. Ahead of the “official” end to the pandemic, health officials have been working on a COVID-19 vaccine campaign that closely resembles the way annual flu shots roll out.
This spring, the FDA’s authorizations will only affect older adults and some people with certain health conditions. If you are not immunocompromised and are under the age of 65, and you’ve already had one updated booster, you’re considered up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines and you won’t need another shot at this time.
The current and near-future plans for COVID-19 vaccines will revolve around Pfizer-BioNTech’s and Moderna’s shots. While traditional vaccines remain protective against severe disease and death, some medical experts have expressed hope for the development and availability of nasal or mucosal vaccines, which may have a better chance at fighting infection in the first place.
Read the latest on what we know about how long COVID-19 immunity lasts, and how we should consider the disease moving forward.