The White House's COVID-19 Response Coordinator, Dr. Ashish Jha, announced that the FDA has approved updated versions of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines that target both the original COVID virus and the two omicron subvariants currently causing the most infections.
During a COVID-19 Response Team press briefing on Tuesday at the White House, Jha described the boosters as "an important shift in our fight against the virus." The new boosters are available now.
NPR reports that COVID-19 vaccination will likely become a yearly vaccine similar to the flu vaccine. Also like the flu shot, the new vaccines can be adjusted every year to account for the dominant variants at the time. At the briefing, Jha called for people 12 and over to receive the vaccine. Dr. Anthony Fauci, also present at the press briefing, specified that some more vulnerable groups will likely still require more frequent boosters.
The new booster will continue to be free of charge for now, however, due to uncertainty regarding Congress providing more emergency funds, it is likely to be the last free booster for those without insurance. Data shows that COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have trended downward over the past month, but there are still approximately 70,000 new cases and upwards of 400 deaths per day.
"Get your updated COVID-19 shot as soon as you are eligible in order to protect yourself, your family, and your community against COVID-19 this fall and winter," urged Fauci.