HealthDay News — New COVID-19 booster shots, reworked to target variants circulating now, could be available by mid-September, providing an opportunity for people to boost waning antibodies to the virus.
The US Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve them in a few weeks, CNN reported, citing unnamed senior administration officials. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will soon follow with a safety review and its recommendations. Its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is scheduled to meet Sept. 12.
Americans are expected to be able to choose between 2 mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna, as well as a protein subunit vaccine from Novavax. The Novavax vaccine contains an ingredient to boost the immune system to make antibodies, CNN reported. The FDA plan is to approve the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for people ages 12 years and older. It is expected to allow the Novavax vaccines, as well as vaccines for those age 11 years and younger, under an emergency use authorization, CNN reported.
The new vaccines will target the XBB.1.5 coronavirus subvariant and offer some protection for closely related strains. They are also effective against EG.5. There will not be free government coverage, though most insurance plans are required to pick up the full cost, without copays, under the Affordable Care Act. People with no insurance can use a government bridge program to get vaccines for free.
“That bridge program will exist through a few channels,” CDC Director Mandy Cohen, M.D., M.P.H., said in an interview with CNN. “Folks can go to a federally qualified health center or they can go to their public health department. … And then the third option is, we are working with pharmacy partners such as CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, and others to have it available in the pharmacies as well.”