The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a tweaked version of the COVID-19 booster called the ‘combo shot. Think of it as a second-generation vaccine.
Health officials refer to it as “Bivalent” shot, a strategy that keeps the proven benefits of the original vaccine while adding to its protection.
Cindy Murphey at the Waco McLennan Public Health District explains how this vaccine is different than the last.
“What it is, is pieces of the original vaccine based on the original virus, combined with pieces of the new strains, the new variants put all together in one shot,” she says.
In June, the FDA ordered vaccine makers to make adjustments to the vaccines to target the BA.4 and BA.5 variants of omicron.
The BA.5 strain is causing nearly all COVID-19 infections in the U.S. and much of the world right now.
In order to get ahead of another COVID surge, the FDA fast-tracked approval of the booster called the ‘combo shot.’
“It relies on the prevalence of your primary series, which is still shots one and two, and adds on protection to that,” says Murphey.
Despite the U.S. Being the first and only country to start these new boosters, it was approved by the FDA after educated predictions based on tests and history.
“The dominant variations of last season, more or less indicate which direction it’s going in, taking something that worked really well in one situation and tweaking it a little bit and applying it to another situation that’s very similar,” she says.
The updated shot isn’t available just yet. The CDC needs to green light the shot.
Their panel is set to meet tomorrow through Friday to discuss the combo shot, to offer a recommendation on who should or shouldn’t get the vaccine.
The Waco McLennan Public Health District says they have already ordered the Pfizer and Moderna doses boosters that could be available as early as next week.
“We will be prepared to have them both in the clinic and in all of our offsite opportunities,” says Murphey.