COVID-19 is once again surging around the country, as BA.4 and BA.5, two highly infectious subvariants of omicron, are responsible for a majority of new cases.
Currently, only adults ages 50 and older and a few younger groups moderately or severely immunocompromised are eligible to receive a second booster. But what about everyone else?
Here’s what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends as we face the latest variant of COVID-19.
How contagious are the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants?
BA.5 may be the most infectious strain of COVID-19 to date, according to Yale Medicine.
The CDC’s COVID-19 data tracker Nowcast estimates circulating variants, and it is updated every Tuesday. According to the most recent update, the BA.5 variant currently makes up around 81.9% of cases, while the BA.4 variant is responsible for 12.9%.
The CDC’s tracking map shows that in the Midwest, which includes Ohio, BA.5 is responsible for 83.4% of cases and BA.4 is responsible for 11.3%.
Who can get a booster shot now?
The CDC currently recommends for anyone ages 5 and older to get one booster after completing their primary COVID-19 vaccine series.
Adults ages 50 and older and some people ages 12 and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised are recommended to get a second booster, and have been able to get one since March.
Here’s which vaccines are authorized for a first or second booster dose, and for whom:
- Adults 18 and older: Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
- Children and teens 12-17: Pfizer and Moderna.
- Children 11 and younger: Pfizer and Moderna.
Novavax is currently not authorized to be used as a booster.
When can everyone get a second booster shot?
In June, members of the Food and Drug Administration’s advisory panel voted to reformulate COVID-19 booster shots for the fall to more directly target the omicron variant.
No final decision has been made yet about boosters for people younger than 50. The Biden administration and federal officials are still deciding whether to recommend a second booster shot for people under 50 before the fall, when the redesigned boosters that target omicron will probably be available for distribution.
Can you mix and match vaccines and vaccine boosters?
The CDC does not recommend mixing vaccines for the primary series – for example, you shouldn’t get Pfizer as a first dose and Moderna as a second – but people 18 and older can get a different vaccine as a booster.
Children and teens ages 5 to 17 who got Pfizer as their primary vaccine must get a Pfizer booster, the CDC says.