Updated COVID-19 Booster Shots for Over-12s Expected Within Few Weeks: White House Official

Updated COVID-19 Booster Shots for Over-12s Expected Within Few Weeks: White House Official
White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha speaks to reporters during a press briefing at the White House in Washington on July 25, 2022. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Katabella Roberts

The newly-updated COVID-19 booster shots targeting the latest Omicron variants of COVID-19 will be available to Americans over the age of 12 in the coming weeks, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said on Wednesday.

"I believe it’s going to be available and every American over the age of 12 will be eligible for it," Jha told NBC News, adding that the booster jab will be available to teens and adults "in a few short weeks."

The availability of the newly-updated shots will depend on whether they are cleared for authorization as expected by the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Jha said earlier this week.

If authorized, the booster jabs could be available by the start of September at the earliest.

"We're going to know more about this in the upcoming weeks and these vaccines will become available by early- to mid-September," Jha said at an event hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, ABC News reported.

"But the big picture, bottom line, is these are substantial upgrades in our vaccines," Jha added. "And those vaccines are coming very, very soon."

U.S. drug regulators recommended in June that vaccine makers reformulate their shots to include components of BA.5 and BA.4, another Omicron subvariant.

Newly-Updated Boosters Will 'Work Much Better'

The newly-formulated booster shots target both BA.4 and BA.5, as well as the original strain of the virus. Presently, BA.4 and BA.5 appear to be the most vaccine-evasive strains of the virus and also largely bypass immunity from a previous infection.
As of Aug. 18, BA.5 cases account for 88.8 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the United States, followed by BA.4 (5.3 percent) and a newer version of BA.4 known as BA4.6 (5.1 percent), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As cases continue to rise, the Biden administration has signed a $1.74 billion federal contract with Moderna to supply 66 million initial doses of the company's "bivalent" booster shot. It has also signed a $3.2 billion agreement with Pfizer for another 105 million shots.

Both contracts with Pfizer and Moderna include options that enable the government to purchase millions more doses down the line, should they need to, and should they secure the money to do so.

Jha said on Tuesday that he expects the shots to "work much better at preventing infection transmission and serious illness" than the current boosters.

"What's really limited us is a lack of resources, but we are pulling from other high-priority items. So my hope is that we're gonna be able to have this for every single adult in America. We will know more about that in the upcoming weeks I think," Jha added.

The new booster shots come as demand for them has dropped, with roughly 108 million people in the United States receiving their first booster shot, according to CDC data.