When will an updated COVID-19 booster be available? Should I wait to get it?


A: Updated boosters should be available by mid to late September in the US. For most people it makes sense to wait, even if you are eligible for a booster now. 🚀

TL; DR; The updated booster is a better match to currently circulating variants. This means it will provide better protection against initial infection in the next few months, as well as update longer term immune responses towards new variants.

In June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended a monovalent version of the COVID-19 vaccine targeting the XBB.1.5 strain of the Omicron variant. At the time, XBB.1.5 was causing the majority of COVID-19 cases. Early data also showed that this formulation effectively neutralized other closely related XBB variants. This formulation will be different from the bivalent booster from last fall that targeted both the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron strains.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) is scheduled to meet on September 12th 🗓️ to issue guidance on who should get the updated boosters and it should be available in the U.S. soon thereafter.

⏳ Some people who are eligible for a booster dose now may be wondering if they should get a dose of the old bivalent booster or wait for the new updated booster.

🟢 In most cases, it probably makes sense to wait the few weeks for the updated version. XBB strains (which include EG.5 and FL.1.51.) still make up more than 99.9% of circulating strains in the US. The updated booster will be a much better match to these variants, meaning a lower chance of getting any COVID infection in the next few months. There is also some evidence that repeated exposure to the “original recipe” version of the spike protein may be counterproductive moving forward – it may encourage the immune system to preferentially “remember” the original version of the virus and not update its response as well to new variants.

🟢 There may be very specific situations where *immunocompromised people or those who are aged 65+ years* who are eligible for a booster dose might consider getting a booster sooner rather than later (for example, if you will be at high-risk for exposure due to travel or other circumstances in the coming weeks). Keep in mind though that getting a booster shot now will impact how soon you can get the new updated version (likely at least a 2-3 month wait in the U.S.). People in this situation should talk to their clinician about what’s best for them based on their health condition and/or age.

🟢 If you *had COVID-19 recently*, it definitely makes sense to wait (especially if you were also vaccinated and/or boosted) as you will have high levels of protective immunity for several months. CDC recommends waiting at least 3 months from infection before getting any COVID-19 vaccine, but immunological data suggest waiting up to 3-6 months is reasonable to maximize the benefit from the booster.

🟢 If you are *not vaccinated at all* (or perhaps have a child that is not yet vaccinated) it also makes sense to wait another few weeks for the updated booster at this point. We anticipate that the new formulation will take over as the version that is available for initial vaccination as well as boosters for people who already vaccinated and/or boosted. Getting vaccinated with the updated version will help the immune response be better matched to the currently circulating strains as we head into the school year, colder weather, and more indoor activities. Of course, if your child has a high-risk health condition, you should consult with your clinician as to whether to wait.

Between now and when the updated booster becomes available, we can ramp up other prevention strategies (i.e., masking in crowded spaces 😷, opting for outdoor gatherings 🌳, and at-home testing 🏠) to lower our risk getting infected and/or spreading COVID-19 to others.

We will continue to share any available updates on the new booster in the coming weeks! 📢

For more on the updated monovalent booster see:

NPR Article

TIME Article

Scientific American Article

Or our past post here

For our last Nerdy Girl live discussing the updated COVID-19 booster, tune into minute 10:06 here.

For our most recent post on new variants see here.

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