New COVID Booster Vaccine Will Be Available Next Month: Reports

Updated COVID-19 booster shots will be available to the American public in mid-September, government officials told some media outlets on Friday.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve the new vaccine dose, designed to target currently circulating variants of the virus, in the coming weeks, officials from the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told CNN, speaking on the condition of anonymity. An unnamed CDC official also confirmed the details with NBC News.

“Our goal, our imperative, our task is to make sure we’re using those tools,” the CDC official told NBC News of the new boosters. “Vaccination is going to continue to be key this year because immunity wanes and because the COVID-19 virus continues to change.”

Updated vaccines are expected to be available for people 12 and up from Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax, the officials said. All are reportedly designed to fight the XBB.1.5 subvariant, which is slowly losing its dominance, but testing shows that the doses are also effective against the newly dominant EG.5 strain.

Officials are hoping for a higher uptake of this vaccine. Just over 20% of adults received last year’s bivalent booster.

The timeline reported Friday would bring vaccines to market slightly sooner than officials have previously indicated. Earlier this month, CDC Director Mandy Cohen told NPR that health officials “anticipate there being a new COVID booster available probably in the early October time frame.”

Friday’s news comes as the U.S. experiences a late-summer uptick in COVID-19 cases, though the count is drastically lower than last summer’s surge. Still, the number of new COVID-19 hospitalizations leaped 21.6% this past week, marking the fifth straight week of climbing admissions, the CDC said this week.

The CDC also said earlier this week that it expects hospitalizations to climb over the next month, with “1,100 to 7,500 daily COVID-19 hospital admissions likely reported on September 18.”

Those figures have prompted some places to revive dormant mask mandates, including several hospitals, at least one university and a Hollywood studio.