The new COVID-19 booster will be available at your local pharmacy by the end of the week

covid vaccine
A medical assistant administers a COVID-19 vaccine dose to a woman at a clinic in Los Angeles on March 25, 2021.Mario Tama/Getty Images
  • The FDA authorized an updated COVID-19 booster tailored to protect against the Omicron variant.

  • The CDC recommended the shots, which means they can be shipped across the country.

  • The CDC said the doses could make it to pharmacies later this week.

Following the Food and Drug Administration's approval of the newest COVID-19 booster shot, the CDC has now recommended the vaccine — meaning it will be available to millions of Americans later this week.

The FDA said in a press release on Monday that the boosters from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech help protect against commonly circulating variants, including EG.5 and BA.2.86.

The quick-spreading strain EG.5, also known as Eris, has likely been the culprit behind recent summer COVID surges, though it doesn't appear to make people any sicker than previous strains, Insider previously reported.

On Tuesday, the CDC's Advisory Committee backed the FDA's recommendation that individuals over 6 months old get the new vaccine. The CDC's director Dr. Mandy Cohen formally recommend it Tuesday evening, per a statement from the CDC.

"We have more tools than ever to prevent the worst outcomes from COVID-19," Cohen said in a statement. "CDC is now recommending updated COVID-19 vaccination for everyone 6 months and older to better protect you and your loved ones."

When will the booster be available?

Since Cohen gave the booster the go-ahead, millions of doses will be shipped within days and could be available at pharmacies and doctors' offices across the country as soon as the end of this week, The New York Times reported. 

The CDC announced that many people will still be able to get the updated vaccine for free.

"For people with health insurance, most plans will cover COVID-19 vaccine at no cost to you," the CDC wrote in a statement. "People who don't have health insurance or with health plans that do not cover the cost can get a free vaccine from their local health centers; state, local, tribal, or territorial health department; and pharmacies participating in the CDC's Bridge Access Program. Children eligible for the Vaccines for Children program also may receive the vaccine from a provider enrolled in that program."

The FDA granted approval for people 12 and older to receive a single dose of the latest mRNA vaccine and authorized emergency use for kids 6 months to 11 years of age.

Kids aged 6 months to 4 years who have not yet received any vaccination can get three doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech booster or two doses of the Moderna booster, the agency said.

"Vaccination remains critical to public health and continued protection against serious consequences of COVID-19, including hospitalization and death," Peter Marks, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in the agency's press release.

"The public can be assured that these updated vaccines have met the agency's rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality," Marks added. "We very much encourage those who are eligible to consider getting vaccinated."

Read the original article on Insider