The Centers for Disease Control Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is meeting on Thursday.
Vaccine advisers are expected to consider issuing a recommendation for Pfizer and Moderna’s updated COVID-19 vaccine boosters.
“As soon as they say it’s okay, you can start shipping,” said Dr. Jill Roberts, Associate Professor for the USF College of Public Health.
This comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the vaccines on Wednesday.
Health officials are preparing to roll out millions of new COVID-19 boosters.
The Biden Administration has secured 171 million doses of these new Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
The government has already made about 20 million of those doses available for pre-order for states, primary care providers, pharmacies, and clinics.
This is in anticipation of the CDC giving the final green light for the updated boosters. Shots can’t go into arms until the CDC issues a recommendation for them.
Pfizer and Moderna’s new vaccines are bivalent. They target both the original Wuhan COVID-19 strain from the beginning of the pandemic and the current, most prevalent omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5.
Experts said this authorization process has been different. The FDA moved forward much faster with these updated boosters than with previous shots.
“What happens in this particular case is very little component of the vaccine changes. The actual antigen, the spike protein changes, but the background, the mRNA tech is exactly the same,” said Roberts.
Pfizer’s new shot is a 30-microgram dose for anyone 12 and older.
Moderna's updated booster is a 50-microgram dose for people 18 and older.
If the CDC recommends these shots, you can get one only if you’re up to date on your other vaccines, including the original booster.
“So you want to make sure if you haven’t gotten that booster, get it now. Then once you’re out three months, you can get this new guy,” said Roberts.
This would be the first time Americans can get a COVID-19 vaccine that targets all of these strains.
Health experts say it’s important because there’s serious potential for viral resurgence this fall and winter and not only could these new shots offer more protection now, but they could also help with long COVID down the line.
“The data that’s coming out about long COVID in the last couple of weeks is pretty bad. Seeing changes on MRIs, seeing potentials with blood clots and seeing things like this. The increase in cardiovascular events that occurs post-COVID, it’s real. It’s all very, very real,” said Roberts.
The CDC ACIP meeting begins at 10 a.m.
The vote is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
If the CDC recommends the shots, health officials believe they could be available as soon as next week.