FDA Approves Booster Dose of Omicron-Specific Covid Vaccine For People Over 65
On April 18, the FDA announced that individuals aged 65 and over, as well as those who are immunocompromised, are eligible to receive an additional dose of the bivalent formulations of the Moderna Covid-19 Vaccine and the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 Vaccine. Canada and the United Kingdom had already approved the additional shot for those at higher risk of severe illness from Covid. The updated “bivalent” boosters contain two messenger RNA (mRNA) components of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including the original strain and the ones found in the omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5 lineages.
While the daily average of new Covid-19 cases in January 2021 was forty times higher than it is currently, the disease still claims around 255 lives per day, with isolated pockets in the country reporting significantly higher cases and deaths per capita than the low averages reported. The FDA initially approved the bivalent vaccine on August 31, 2022, and since then, only 21.5% of those aged 50–64 and 42.6% of those over 65 have received it, although these rates should ideally be higher, given the persistent risk of severe or fatal disease in these populations.
Who is eligible for the new booster shots and when?
- Any person 65 years and older who received the previous dose at least four months ago is eligible.
- The CDC issued a permissive recommendation, meaning individuals can choose to receive the additional booster if they wish, but every healthy individual aged 65 and over or anyone who recently received a Covid-19 vaccine need not rush to get one now and may opt to wait until fall.
- The CDC’s latest guidelines suggest that individuals who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should wait at least two months after their first shot before receiving the bivalent vaccine. However, the CDC also advises these individuals to consult with their doctors as they may be able to receive the bivalent vaccine every two months, depending on their specific medical circumstances.