Everything You Need to Know About the “New” COVID Booster Shot

Throw on your cold shoulder sweater, it's time to get boosted (again)!

This fall will bring colder weather, pumpkin-flavored treats, and…most likely a seasonal surge of COVID-19 cases. As temperatures continue to drop, indoor events will rise and outdoor activities will be adorned with cramped bodies and heated tents, increasing the risk of catching COVID, as well as the flu or common cold. Ergo, you may want to add “get the new COVID booster shot” to your fall cal in the coming weeks.

According to the CDC, nearly 90% of the newly reported cases are caused by omicron subvariant BA.5. Pharmaceutical companies are working to “update” booster shots to target against this more contagious string of omicron, including subvariant BA. 4. Pfizer’s and Moderna’s updated COVID booster shots are expected to roll out in the following weeks. Here’s everything you need to know.

Why do I need the new COVID booster shot?

According to the FDA, these new and improved boosters are being referred to as “bivalent formulations.” In a release published August 31, the FDA explained that the bivalent formulations “include an mRNA component of the original strain to provide an immune response that is broadly protective against COVID-19 and an mRNA component in common between the omicron variant BA.4 and BA.5 lineages to provide better protection against COVID-19 caused by the omicron variant.”

Essentially, you’re putting as much armor up as possible against these sneaky, wicked viruses. As some may remember from previous years, COVID cases tend to spike during back-to-school season and the holidays.

“As we get deeper into the fall, we’re going to encourage that everyone who is eligible to get their bivalent booster before the fall holiday season begins does so,” Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told the LA Times. “We’ve survived two significant winter surges of this virus, but both have left a devastating impact on our community.”

She continued, “We hope that with this new bivalent vaccine, we might reduce our chances of a third huge winter surge of COVID since we have a pretty good match with what’s circulating.”

Woman Getting Vaccine
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Who can get the Pfizer updated booster shot?

If it’s been at least two months since you received your primary Pfizer vax (as in, you got both doses of the original COVID-19 vaccine) or have received the most recent booster shot, you are eligible. The Pfizer updated booster shot is recommended for those ages 12 and up.

Who can get the Moderna updated booster shot?

If it’s been at least two months since you received your primary Moderna vax (as in, you got both doses of the original COVID-19 vaccine) or have received the most recent booster shot, you are eligible. The Moderna updated booster shot is recommended for those ages 18 and up.

When will children be eligible for the updated booster shot?

Per Bloomberg, kids 11 and younger will have to sit this round of updated booster shots out as none are available — for now. It was reported, however, that Pfizer is actively working to formulate an “omicron-targeting vaccine for children ages 5 through 11.” Hopefully, it’ll be ready by early October. Simultaneously, Pfizer is planning to formulate “a similar vaccine in children 6 months through 4 years old.”

On the bright side, the CDC now says everyone ages 5 and up is eligible (and highly recommended) to receive original boosters. They’re also calling these the monovalent booster.

Where can I get the new COVID booster shot?

Both Pfizer and Moderna booster shots are expected to be available at CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid. You can also contact your primary care physician to see when they may be administering shots as well.

Emily Weaver
Emily is a NYC-based freelance entertainment and lifestyle writer — though, she’ll never pass up the opportunity to talk about women’s health and sports (she thrives during the Olympics). Read more