FDA approves updated COVID-19 vaccines to target Omicron variant

FDA approves updated COVID vaccine
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 5:03 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - As COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are once again on the rise, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken a significant step in the fight against the virus. On Monday, the FDA approved updated COVID-19 vaccines designed to specifically target the Omicron XBB.1.5 variant, which has been circulating in recent times.

The two newly approved vaccines are as follows:

  1. Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine (2023-2024 Formula): This is a monovalent vaccine tailored to combat the Omicron XBB.1.5 variant.
  2. Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine (2023-2024 Formula): Another monovalent vaccine aimed at addressing the Omicron XBB.1.5 variant.

Both of these vaccines are authorized for use in individuals aged 12 and older, with the Moderna vaccine also approved for individuals between 6 months and 11 years of age.

The FDA’s decision to approve these updated vaccines was based on rigorous clinical trial data demonstrating their effectiveness in preventing COVID-19 caused by the Omicron XBB.1.5 variant. Moreover, these vaccines have proven to be safe and well-tolerated.

This approval is a significant milestone in the ongoing battle against COVID-19, providing a crucial option for vaccination that aligns with the evolving nature of the virus. These vaccines are expected to become available in the United States in the coming weeks.

Aside from these two newly approved vaccines, several other COVID-19 vaccines are currently in development, targeting various virus variants. Some of these vaccines are engineered to offer extended protection. It remains possible that more vaccines may receive approval for use in the United States in the coming months or years.

It’s important to bear in mind that no vaccine can offer complete immunity, and all vaccines may have side effects. However, the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination far outweigh the risks. Vaccination remains the most effective means of safeguarding oneself against severe illness, hospitalization, and death resulting from COVID-19.

These updated vaccines are manufactured by Moderna, Pfizer, and BioNTech. The FDA’s approval was grounded in data from clinical trials that affirmed the safety and efficacy of the new booster shot, particularly against the Omicron variant.

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) has reported that the current strain of COVID-19 is causing a range of symptoms, from sore throat to shortness of breath and gastrointestinal issues.

Dr. Wes Stubblefield of ADPH explained, “The strain that it is targeting is one of the Omicron sub-variants. Everything that is circulating in the US and the world are related to these Omicron sub-variants. So, the hope is, and studies have shown it’s effective against what’s currently circulating in Alabama, which is the EG.5 variant, as well as many others due to their similarity.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is convening tomorrow to discuss the criteria for individuals who should receive the updated vaccine and when it will be distributed to healthcare providers and pharmacies. ADPH anticipates that these vaccines will be accessible to the public in a few weeks.

As the situation evolves, it is crucial to stay informed about vaccination recommendations and follow public health guidelines to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

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