Omicron-specific COVID booster shot coming soon

Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 6:29 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - The CDC and FDA are expected to approve a new COVID booster shot that will be available in the fall. The new booster will be specifically tailored to target the Omicron variants that are dominant in the U.S. right now, known as BA.4 and BA.5.

Dr. Rachel Presti is a Washington University infectious disease specialist at Barnes Jewish Hospital.

“The virus has changed its face a little bit and you need updated facial recognition.”

The current shots are based on the original virus. The new boosters are expected to keep people out of the hospital even if they do catch the virus.

“The idea is, you don’t get sick and you don’t give it to other people. And they do seem to be, the expectation is that they’ll be better at that,” said Presti.

Kelly Edinger was eligible for a booster shot in July and debated whether to get one now or wait until the new booster shot comes out.

“And because of my health issues, because of the things that I have to personally worry about, I decided that waiting wasn’t going to benefit me any,” Edinger said.

For those who are immunocompromised, some doctors are recommending people take whatever booster is available now for their protection instead of waiting on the new shots. But Presti said as long as someone takes necessary precautions, it might be worth waiting until the more effective booster is available.

“Maybe think about talking to your doctor about other ways of protecting yourself. Maybe getting one of the monoclonal antibodies, maybe, you know continuing to wear your mask and continuing to be safe,” she said.

The CDC recommends two booster shots after the primary vaccination for people 50 years old and older. And that’s also the case for younger people who are immunocompromised.

Moderna and Pfizer are currently producing millions of doses of the new Omicron-specific booster shots. They’re expected to be available in September or early October.

Washington University is currently enrolling participants in a clinical trial of the Moderna BA.4/BA.5 booster. Participants must have received a Moderna vaccination previously. You can get more information at Washington University’s Infectious Diseases Clinical Research Unit.