TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Starting this week, you can go get a new fall COVID-19 shot, the White House said Tuesday.
The White House Covid Response Team held a virtual press conference Tuesday to talk about the updated vaccines that target the Omicron variant, the main variant currently in circulation.
The Pfizer vaccine has been approved for people 12 and older and 18 and older for Moderna’s new version. The new vaccines are now being shipped out across the country.
“As the virus continues to change, we will now be able to update our vaccines annually to target the dominant variant,” President Joe Biden said Tuesday. “The new vaccines provide the strongest protection from the new Omicron strain of the COVID virus, which did not exist when the original vaccine was developed.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the BA.5 Omicron variant accounts for 89% of all COVID infections in the U.S.
USF Health’s Dr. Michael Teng says COVID-19 is going to become like the flu.
“Where we have kind of these small changes every year and you make small changes in the vaccine every year so that you update the vaccine every year,” Teng said. “Today, we’ve seen from the White House is that they’re trying to make it kind of a normal idea that this will be a seasonal vaccine that you’ll get a vaccine every year. It will be an annual vaccine and it’ll, you know, hopefully, this virus will be seasonal, like the other coronaviruses.”
The CDC says updated COVID-19 boosters add Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 spike protein components to the current vaccine composition.
“What I think they’re hoping is that by mixing and matching, you can make people’s immune response hit other variants, even ones that maybe haven’t come up yet,” Teng said. “Since the beginning of vaccination, this is the first time we’re getting to a point where catching up with the virus and so what we need to do is keep catching up with the virus, just like we do with a flu.”
There are mixed feelings about the updated booster shot.
Regina Nelson says she’s vaccinated and has had COVID-19 three times. She believes now it’s time for her booster.
“There’s no such thing as so many,” Nelson said. “Maybe had I not gotten the vaccine, it may have been worse than not getting it. So I feel that getting the booster is just another way to prevent it from being worse or me not overcoming it.”
There are some people, like Liz Cahill who don’t see the need for another shot. She says she has all three vaccines, and has come down with COVID-19 four times.
“I don’t think at this point I’d be inclined to get it fourth,” Cahill said. “I think it’s helping, but I also think that since I’m young and I’m healthy, I’m pretty good at fighting off anything that I might get.”