TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Moderna and Pfizer’s updated mRNA COVID-19 vaccines to help combat new variants of COVID-19.

Monday, the FDA authorized emergency use of the 2023-2024 vaccines “to provide better protection against serious consequences of COVID-19, including hospitalization and death.”

The new vaccines were said to contain an updated monovalent component that corresponds to the Omicron variant XBB.1.5. This now means the previous bivalent vaccines will no longer be available in the United States.

Here are the eligibility standards for the new vaccines:

  • Those 5 years and older can get a dose of the new vaccines at least two months after the last dose of any COVID-19 vaccine. This applies regardless of vaccination status
  • Children between 6 months through 4 years old who had been vaccinated against COVID-19 can get one or two doses of the updated vaccine depending on the previously administered vaccine
  • Children in the same aforementioned age range who haven’t been vaccinated need three doses of the updated Pfizer vaccine or two doses of the updated Moderna vaccine

The FDA said those who take the vaccines may experience similar side effects as those who took the earlier vaccines, but experts said their benefits outweigh the risks.

“Vaccination remains critical to public health and continued protection against serious consequences of COVID-19, including hospitalization and death,” said Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “The public can be assured that these updated vaccines have met the agency’s rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality. We very much encourage those who are eligible to consider getting vaccinated.”

According to the FDA, unless there is a significantly more virulent COVID variant, it is possible that COVID-19 vaccines will need to be updated annually, just like the influenza vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet Tuesday to come up with clinical recommendations on who should get the vaccines, particularly in consideration of those who are immunocompromised or in advanced age.

Manufacturers expect the vaccines will be available this fall.