A woman waits for injection of COVID-19 booster vaccine in Burlingame, Calif., on Dec. 4, 2021. The new Omicron variant of COVID-19 was identified in more than a dozen Americans in at least 10 U.S. states as of this weekend, early evidence of its presence across the country, as the federal government fights the pandemic with a consistent vaccination campaign, including broader use of vaccines.
Wu Xiaoling—Xinhua/Getty Images
All Americans ages 6 months and older will be eligible to receive an updated COVID booster tailored to a newer Omicron strain, if a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention committee has its way.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted 13-1 Tuesday to approve updated jabs from Moderna, Pfizer, and Novavax for the vast majority of U.S. residents, though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve Novavax’s updated formula. The agency authorized such boosters from Moderna and Pfizer on Monday.
The CDC anticipates having adequate supply and shouldn’t need to prioritize certain groups, like the elderly or immunocompromised, for first doses, officials said at a Tuesday committee meeting.
The CDC must now accept or reject the committee’s recommendations. It is expected to accept them, and boosters could be available to the general public by the end of the week.
“Everyone ages 6 months or older should receive the new, updated Moderna and Pfizer XBB-strain COVID vaccine,” Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, told Fortune on Tuesday.
“It is clear that the vaccine remains safe and effective at all ages. People at high risk will especially benefit from the vaccine. This is consistent with universal recommendation that the [committee made] today.
Updated vaccines tailored to previously dominant strain
New boosters are monovalent, meaning they’re tailored to just one strain. Last year’s updated Omicron boosters were tailored to both Omicron and the initial strain of COVID.
While updated jabs are expected to provide good protection against currently circulating strains, including “Pirola” BA.2.86, they’re tailored to the XBB.1.5 “Kraken” strain, which dominated in the U.S. and elsewhere late last year into early this year.
While the majority of circulating strains are members of the XBB viral family, XBB.1.5 itself is almost extinct. It was estimated to be responsible for just 3.1% of U.S. infections 10 days ago, according to the latest variant data the CDC has made available.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
Subscribe to Well Adjusted, our newsletter full of simple strategies to work smarter and live better, from the Fortune Well team. Sign up today.