NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — New COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are rolling out sooner than most expected, after Labor Day. Both Pfizer and Moderna have now applied for emergency use authorization and the government is expected to act fast.
“The boosters, it’s important to know, still contain the original covid shot, but now add on an additional part to the shot that’s protective against two of the homegrown variants,” explains Yale Medicine Physician Arjun Venkatesh about how the new booster will protect against both the BA.4 and BA.5 strains of the omicron variant.
He says at minimum they will be as effective as the previous shots and possibly better.
“The hope is that they’ll be much more effective at preventing severe disease. So people getting hospitalized or dying from covid, as well as symptomatic covid, so that there’s less transmission as we go into the fall.”
The rollout is planned for the first full week of September, after Labor Day. Who will be eligible first?
“I think what you will see is for the first few weeks, a focus on getting the new boosters out to high risk populations, people in nursing homes, health care workers, those who are immunocompromised.”
Dr. Venkatesh believes it will become widely available to the general public through pharmacies, doctor’s offices and local heath systems.
“My guess is wherever you got your last shot is probably where you’re going to get your next shot.”
That new Pfizer covid booster will be for people 12 and up. Moderna’s will be for 18 and up.
Health experts urge people to get boosted, saying that having just the two original covid shots is no longer considered “fully vaccinated.”
“Just like the flu vaccine where people need to get updated once a year, we probably need to continue to get updated with covid vaccines on an ongoing basis,” Jha said.
The CDC has not officially changed the definition of “fully vaccinated” to include boosters, despite some experts’ calls, but White House coronavirus response coordinator Ashish Jha said Wednesday that “two shots is not enough.”
“People need at least three,” he said. That is because the virus has evolved, and protection from the initial vaccines wanes over time.