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The Biden administration recently announced that updated COVID-19 boosters could become available earlier than previously expected.

The spread of BA.5 has brought average U.S. case counts to a high plateau of roughly 130,000 per day—a number that is likely an undercount due to the popularity of at-home testing. Meanwhile, hospitalizations are also increasing, though the numbers remain well below previous peaks.

Vaccine manufacturers are now developing COVID-19 boosters that target BA.5 to prepare for a possible winter surge. The talking points below cover everything you need to know about these updated boosters.

 

Boosters that target BA.5 could be available in September.

  • Both Pfizer and Moderna recently said they could have reformulated boosters ready in early September.

  • The federal government has already purchased 105 million updated Pfizer booster doses and secured 66 million updated Moderna booster doses.

  • These agreements are dependent on FDA authorization and CDC recommendation.

The updated boosters are expected to bolster protection against newer variants.

  • COVID-19 has been mutating to become better at evading our immune defenses, both from vaccination and from prior infection.

  • Our current vaccines and boosters continue to reduce the risk of severe illness, but their effectiveness against infection has dropped significantly.

  • Vaccine manufacturers are now developing a bivalent booster by adding a component to the current vaccines that targets Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5.

  • These revamped boosters are expected to produce a stronger immune response than our current shots.

Everyone who is eligible for a first or second booster should get one right away.

  • Everyone ages 5 and older should get their first booster.

  • Everyone ages 50 and older, and individuals with certain immune deficiencies, should get their second booster.

  • Getting a booster now will give you enough time to receive a reformulated shot before a potential winter surge.

  • People under 50 who are not immunocompromised need to wait for the reformulated shots to get their second booster.

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