FDA clears the way for updated COVID-19 booster shots

Get ready to roll up those sleeves again. 

New COVID-19 booster shots are expected to be available soon with the recipes tweaked to target Omicron.

"We're dealing with a different virus now than we than we did the beginning of the pandemic. And that's just logical that you'd want to have a vaccine that's specifically against the latest virus," said Dr. Richard Novak, UI Health, Chief of Infectious Diseases.

Dr. Novak says UI Health was involved in creating a booster to target the BA.1 subvariant, but the Pfizer and Moderna boosters just authorized by the FDA are more up to the minute.

They target BA.5, that's currently dominant, as well as the original virus. That combination aims to increase cross-protection against multiple variants.

"If you remember, we had beta, alpha, delta, etc. and so it really provides the broadest opportunity for protection against COVID-19," said Annaliesa Anderson, Pfizer vaccine chief.

"The only way we can keep up with the evolution of the virus is to do it this way — to jump on the variants as they come out and mass produce the vaccine to it as quickly as possible," adds Dr. Novak.


Dr. Novak says this is like getting your yearly flu shot which targets the current threat. The timing is key, with the booster roll out designed to blunt an expected winter surge.

"COVID is not done with us. You may be done with COVID It's not done with you. And if you want to not have to deal with it over the fall and winter, I'd encourage you to get the shot," said Dr. Novak.

These boosters are designed for those who've already had the original COVID vaccines, at least two months earlier. 

Moderna will be available for those 18 and up. 

Pfizer can be used for those as young as 12. 

The CDC still has to sign off, but the updated boosters could be available as soon as next week.