Federal health officials have decided against approving a second booster shot of the coronavirus vaccine this summer for adults under 50, because a retooled version is so close to being ready. Pfizer and Moderna have assured the government their new boosters will be rolled out no later than September, the New York Times reports, which prompted the change in plans. The vaccine makers expect the boosters to offer more protection from the omicron subvariant BA.5, the New York Times reports, though the data remains preliminary. The government would then launch a fall campaign to encourage people get the new booster shot.
The Food and Drug Administration nevertheless suggests eligible adults have the second booster now, per the AP. "You can still benefit from existing booster options and leave time to receive an updated booster in the fall," the agency said. People who have their second booster now will remain able to have the omicron version when it rolls out, White House officials said, though the date they become eligible will depend on when they had their last booster. If a dose follows the previous shot too closely, an expert said, "the antibodies stop that next dose from working." That's also true of other vaccines as well, such as the ones for tetanus or the flu.
Health officials were of two minds on waiting for the new boosters, per the Times. Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House pandemic response coordinator, wanted to make more people eligible for the booster that's available now because the number of coronavirus cases is rising. But the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wanted the emphasis to be on a campaign in the fall that would offer the omicron updates. Once they're ready, the reworked vaccines will need to be approved by the FDA and the CDC before they're administered, as usual. (More COVID booster shots stories.)