On Thursday, Sept. 1, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized updated COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for Moderna and Pfizer. This is the first time updated COVID-19 vaccines have received emergency use authorization in the United States.
Both are bivalent vaccines that combine the COVID-19 original vaccine with one that targets the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron sublineages. Currently, the BA.5 sublineage makes up 93 percent of cases in Colorado. The Pfizer vaccine will be authorized for individuals 12 and older. The Moderna vaccine will be authorized for individuals 18 and older.
“We know that the public has been anticipating the latest COVID-19 booster shot that is specific to the Omicron variant, and we are excited to offer it very soon,” said Chaffee County Public Health Director Andrea Carlstrom. “Rest assured, as soon as it is fully authorized, we will be promoting the various ways to obtain it. We are also hoping to secure and announce Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment vaccine bus dates for September in the very near future.”
Though the FDA has authorized these new vaccinations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) must first give approval before any vaccinations can be administered. The CDC’s advisory group expected to vote Thursday, September 1, whether to support recommending boosters for use.
“The CDC’s advisory group will also provide more details on exactly who is eligible for this booster, and we expect that anyone 12 years and older for Pfizer or 18 years and older for Moderna can receive this updated booster shot as long as it has been two months since their last dose,” notes Carlstrom.
Because of the imminent release of the updated bivalent vaccine, the original COVID-19 vaccine is no longer authorized as a booster shot. Anyone who was planning to get a COVID-19 booster in the next week should reschedule their appointment once the new formulation is available. The original vaccination is authorized only as the primary two-dose series or for those under 12.
People under 12 who cannot receive an updated booster can still be boosted with the original vaccine. The FDA says it will work quickly to evaluate future submissions for authorization of the bivalent booster shot for younger people. Pfizer expects to submit an application for authorization for children 5-11 years in early October and will soon after that focus on children ages 6 months through 4 years.
Chaffee County Public Health (CCPH) should receive a shipment of the updated COVID-19 vaccine early next week. CCPH will host a full-day vaccination clinic on September 14, as well as make the updated vaccine available through the regular Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday clinics. The clinic on September 14 will be by appointment only and the link to schedule an appointment will be released next week.