On Thursday evening, September 1, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed off on the CDC’s recommendation to administer the updated Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech Bivalent COVID-19 vaccines to Americans this fall, as reported by CNN. 

Voting 13-1 earlier in the day, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices pushed through with its recommendation for the updated mRNA boosters following the FDA’s authorization for their emergency use on Wednesday, August 31.  

The sign-off by the CDC means that the boosters could be made available as early as Friday (September 2), as stated by pharmaceutical manufacturers who began shipping the new doses after the FDA issued emergency use authorization (EUA) for the updated boosters, CNN further reports. 

In a statement, CDC Director Walensky said that “the updated COVID-19 boosters are formulated to better protect against the most recently circulating COVID-19 variant. They can help restore protection that has waned since previous vaccination and were designed to provide broader protection against newer variants. This recommendation followed a comprehensive scientific evaluation and robust scientific discussion. If you are eligible, there is no bad time to get your COVID-19 booster and I strongly encourage you to receive it.”

The CDC also stated that it “expects to recommend updated COVID-19 boosters for other pediatric groups” in the coming weeks. 

According to CNN, “the updated boosters have instructions that tell our cells to make antibodies against two strains of the virus that causes COVID-19: the original strain and the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants, which share the same spike.”

Individuals who have completed all primary doses in their vaccine series are eligible to receive the updated boosters. The CDC Advisory Committee recommends that the updated mRNA boosters “be given at least two months after the last dose of any COVID-19 vaccine and up to three months after an infection,” CNN noted, adding that “the new formulations do not replace shots for the primary series.”

As of this writing, the CDC has yet to update its COVID-19 guidelines on vaccines and boosters for each age group and for the moderately and severely immunocompromised. Stay tuned for the latest updates on the IMF's COVID-19 page.

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