FDA Clears COVID Booster for Seniors This Spring

Also for people with compromised immune systems
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 18, 2023 12:15 PM CDT
FDA Clears COVID Booster for Seniors This Spring
A COVID booster shot is prepared in this file photo.   (Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP, File)

US regulators on Tuesday cleared another COVID-19 booster dose for older adults and people with weak immune systems so they can shore up protection this spring—while taking steps to make coronavirus vaccinations simpler for everyone else, per the AP. The FDA said anyone 65 or older can opt to roll up their sleeves again as long as it's been at least four months since their first dose of the so-called bivalent vaccine that targets omicron strains. And most people who are immune-compromised can choose another bivalent booster shot at least two months later, with additional doses in the future at the discretion of their physician.

For everyone else, regardless of whether it’s a first shot or a booster, the FDA also said the original versions of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are outdated and will no longer be used. Instead, anyone getting a Pfizer or Moderna shot will receive the newer omicron-targeted version. For most people, if it’s their first-ever vaccine, just one combo dose will be enough. Anyone who's gotten their original vaccinations but hasn't yet had an omicron-targeted booster can still get one—but the agency will decide over the summer if younger, healthy people will eventually be offered a second bivalent booster.

“At this stage of the pandemic, data support simplifying the use” of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, FDA vaccine chief Dr. Peter Marks said in a statement. “The agency believes this approach will help encourage future vaccination.” Authorities in Britain and Canada already have made similar recommendations for an extra spring booster for vulnerable populations. And high-risk Americans who last got a dose in the fall have anxiously wondered when they could get another. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must sign off on the newest round of boosters. Its advisers are set to meet on Wednesday.

(More COVID booster shots stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.