The Perfect Enemy | CDC rolls out new vaccine booster to target Omicron variant ahead of the fall season
November 10, 2023

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending an additional COVID-19 booster shot that targets the Omicron variant.

Doctors are encouraging people who are eligible to receive the shot to get it now before the fall and winter months because those are usually the seasons that they see a potential rise in COVID-19 cases.

There was a quick rollout of the vaccine at pharmacies starting this week, so the vaccine is available for those who are interested.

The CDC’s COVID-19 forecast from September 2021 shows a high number of reported cases this time last year, and those numbers drop going into October and November.

To prevent a spike in cases this year, the CDC wants people to get a new COVID-19 vaccine.

News4JAX spoke to an infectious diseases doctor at Baptist Medical to learn more about the shots.

“The best way to stay protected from the current circulating strains is to get this v booster. This Bivalent booster will replace monovalent boosters,” Dr. Shalika Katugaha, System Medical Director of Infectious Diseases, said.

She said the booster shots we currently have are monovalent. However, the new vaccine is bivalent, meaning it contains two components of the virus that causes COVID-19 and the Omicron sub-variant.

Anyone 12 years old and up can get the shot, and if you haven’t gotten a vaccine in the last two months, then you are eligible as well.

“There is a lot of vaccine fatigue. Then you have these overwhelming recommendations, but the truth is, this is the best way to protect ourselves, so we don’t see big waves in a pandemic anymore [and] can go back to living normal lives,” Katugaha said.

Katugaha also explained how the testing for this new booster was performed before releasing it to the public.

“This is no different from how we get a flu shot. We tested on animals first, and then we get human data to anyone who is afraid of this vaccine. I would say we’ve given 600 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the United States alone and have had a great safety profile. This isn’t doing something very different per se,” Katugaha said.

She added that doctors need more clinical data on humans, which should come in the next two months.

Considering the data, she says this rollout would prevent thousands of hospitalizations and deaths.

Also, manufacturers are working on combined versions of COVID-19 and flu vaccines to take one a year.