WA Department of Health: COVID fall booster doses could be ‘weeks away’

Aug 4, 2022, 5:14 PM

(Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)...

(Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

(Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

We could see the COVID fall booster doses — which will target, among others, the more contagious BA.5 variant — in the near future.

The Washington State Department of Health said during its Thursday media briefing that the federal government has finalized its purchases of the new shots from Pfizer and Moderna.

“We do expect that’s probably a matter of — we don’t have exact timing from the federal government, but — weeks, not months, away, potentially,” said Michele Roberts, assistant secretary of Prevention and Community Health at the Department of Health.

BA.5 most contagious variant yet, booster on the way

These doses will target the omicron variant, providing protection from catching the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants currently spreading worldwide.

However, it is possible that not everyone will be eligible for the new boosters right away. It may be that — as we have seen in previous vaccine rollouts — older adults or people with compromised immune systems are prioritized over those who are younger and healthier.

“Decisions on prioritization and other pieces will be made depending on how many doses will be available to each state, but also will initially be recommended from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices at the CDC,” Roberts said.

If such a prioritization happens, that would mean that the group of people who still do not qualify for second boosters — and who may have had their first boosters half a year ago or more — will have to get in the back of the line for the fall shot. Currently, those 50 and older, or 12 and older with compromised immune systems, qualify for a second booster.

Still, Roberts said younger adults should feel confident that, as long as they are up-to-date with that first booster, they are well-protected against severe symptoms.

“If we get into a need to prioritize or are looking at a rollout over time, although some populations may have been farther out — especially if you’re under 50 — from your last dose … while [the vaccines] do wane with protection against infection, protection against severe side effects is holding strong with these vaccines,” she said.

In the meantime, if you qualify for a second booster — or a first booster – and have not yet gotten one, health experts recommend you get that dose as soon as possible. You will still be able to get the fall booster in a few weeks.

Statewide, about 58% of people who qualify for at least one booster have gotten one.

Follow Nicole Jennings on Twitter or email her here

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WA Department of Health: COVID fall booster doses could be ‘weeks away’