(NewsNation) — A new COVID-19 booster could be coming next week, just in time for an expected surge in cases heading into the fall.
The Federal Drug Administration is expected to approve the updated shots as early as Friday, according to NBC News. That would pave the way for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to give final approval next week. The CDC’s panel of independent advisers is set to meet Tuesday, WABC-TV reported.
COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are rising by double-digit percentages, according to CDC data, though rates remain far below pandemic-era levels.
Here’s what you need to know about the updated shot:
When will it be available?
Potentially, as soon as Sept. 13.
First, the FDA will meet — possibly this week — to approve the shot. After it does, a panel of independent advisers to the CDC will meet and recommend who should be eligible for the shots. The panel is set to meet on Tuesday.
After the panel finalizes its recommendation, the CDC director will give the final signoff, which typically comes soon after.
What’s new about this booster?
The latest shot will target the XBB.1.5 omicron subvariant. While CDC data shows it’s no longer the dominant strain, the updated booster should protect against other current subvariants, NBC News reported, citing drugmakers and experts. EG.5 is the current dominant strain.
Moderna claims its new vaccine is effective against the newly emerged B.2.86 variant, unofficially dubbed “Pirola,” which the CDC has warned may be more infectious than other strains among those who have had COVID before.
“Taken together with our previously communicated results showing a similarly effective response against EG.5 and FL.1.5.1 variants, these data confirm that our updated COVID-19 vaccine will continue to be an important tool for protection as we head into the fall vaccination season,” Moderna President Stephen Hoge said in a statement.
Who should get the shot?
That remains to be seen. The FDA and CDC will make that determination at their meetings over the next week.
However, the CDC already recommends that everyone receive an updated COVID-19 vaccine, in addition to the original 2021 shots, and that people older than 65 receive a second booster on top of that.
If you recently had COVID, the CDC recommends delaying a booster shot for three months after symptoms started, or if asymptomatic, after a positive test.
Will it be free?
For the first time, the federal government will not cover the cost of the booster.
Both Moderna and Pfizer have said they plan to offer the shots for around $110 to $130 on the commercial market. Those with Medicare or private health insurance will likely continue to pay nothing at all, or very little, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
For those who have no insurance or are underinsured, the Biden administration has set up a “bridge program” that will offer access to free boosters through December 2024. The vaccines will be available at select health care providers, community health centers and pharmacies.
Can I get a flu shot at the same time?
Yes. In fact, public health officials are urging the public to prepare to head off what some worry could be a “tripledemic.”
About two-thirds of Americans plan to get the annual flu shot, according to pharmacy chain CVS.
The Hill and NewsNation affiliate KTLA-TV contributed to this report.