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Biden admin plans to roll out updated Covid booster shots in September

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The Biden administration plans to offer updated Covid booster shots in September, an administration official confirmed to NBC News on Friday.

The new vaccines will be reformulated to outperform the now dominant and extremely contagious omicron subvariant BA.5, as well as the BA.4 subvariant.

Both Pfizer and Moderna say they will have the revamped boosters ready by the fall, and the federal government has bought millions of doses to allocate to the public, but it’s not enough to inoculate every American.

The news of the fall rollout of updated boosters was first reported by The New York Times.

A nurse administers a Covid booster injection on April 1, 2022 at the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in Hines, Illinois.Scott Olson / Getty Images file

BA.4 and BA.5 — so far considered the most contagious forms of the virus — made up more than 90% of all new Covid cases in the United States for the week ending July 23, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Health officials have raced to tackle the aggressive subvariants, with the US Food and Drug Administration recommending last month that vaccine manufacturers update their shots to target BA.4 and BA.5.

On Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense announced an agreement to purchase 66 million doses of Moderna’s bivalent Covid vaccine booster.

The federal government also recently purchased 105 million booster doses for bivalent Covid vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech for potential use later this year.

Once those bivalent vaccine boosters are approved by the FDA and the CDC, the first deliveries will be received by both manufacturers in the early fall, Health and Human Services said in a press release.

Together, Moderna and Pfizer will provide 171 million bivalent vaccine booster doses for the fall and beyond, if allowed and recommended — but that’s not enough for every American to get a dose, according to the release.

Health and Human Services said both the Moderna and Pfizer agreements include options to provide 300 million doses from each company, for a total of 600 million doses, “but these options can only be exercised with additional funding from Congress. ”

The department stressed in the release that existing Covid vaccines “remain the most important tool in preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death.” Given the threat posed by the BA.5 subvariant, it is vital that Americans “stay up to date on their Covid-19 vaccinations.”

“We must remain vigilant in our fight against COVID-19 and continue to expand Americans’ access to the best vaccines and treatments,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in the release. “When we look to the fall and winter, we’re doing just that — making sure Americans have the tools they need to stay safe and move our country forward.”

Currently, only Americans over 50 or over 12 with certain immune deficiencies are eligible for second booster doses. Of the over 50s who got their first booster, only about 30% have their second, according to CDC data.

Covid hospitalizations have risen modestly in the United States as the subvariants continue to account for a higher proportion of new cases.

Berkeley Lovelace Jr. and Erika Edwards contributed.


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