Pediatric cases rise as Biden administration prepares for rollout of new COVID vaccine boosters

But do you really need one? Experts say all signs point to yes.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2022
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Experts predict the FDA could authorize a new COVID-19 booster shot that includes a new formula aimed at targeting the latest omicron variants as early as this week.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Experts predict the Food and Drug Administration could authorize a new COVID-19 booster shot that includes a new formula aimed at targeting the latest omicron variants as early as this week.

If all goes according to plan, Americans 12 and older will have access to the omicron-specific booster shots after Labor Day.

But do you really need one? Experts say all signs point to yes.

With many schools and universities back in session, health experts grow concerned over a potential viral resurgence in the fall and winter.

"COVID has surprised us many times before. It wouldn't be unexpected to see another surge this fall or winter," said Dr. Michael Ben-Aderet, an epidemiologist at Cedars-Sinai.

New data shows pediatric infection rates are back on the rise nationally.

The American Academy of Pediatrics reports nearly 87,000 new cases, a 9% increase over the previous week.

"I think the most important thing to remember is that there is still a huge amount of COVID circulating in the community," Ben-Aderet said.

The FDA is expected to authorize Pfizer and Moderna's new bivalent booster shots.

Advisors with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are set to meet Thursday, Sept. 1.

The new vaccine will contain the original Wuhan strain plus omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5. The hope is that it will match viruses circulating and the next ones around the corner.

"This omicron-specific booster will actually fill in some of the gaps of the previous vaccine, so it really will protect us going forward from other omicron strains potentially," Ben-Aderet said.

If both agencies give the green light, doses could be shipped and administered soon after Labor Day weekend.

Ben-Aderet said the decision not to use time-consuming clinical trials for each new booster is part of a strategy to keep vaccines up to date with evolving variants.

"The technology is well established, and this has probably been the largest rollout in human history," he said.

Besides vaccines, masking and practicing social distancing, testing is another important part of preventing COVID spread.

On Monday, the Biden administration announced the free home test kit program is coming to a close.

"Congress hasn't provided the COVID funding we need to replenish the nation's stockpiles of tests. It's as simple as that," said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

The last day to order free tests from website, COVID.gov, is Friday, Sept. 2.

One question people may have is whether or not you should you get a booster if you've recently gotten one or if you just had COVID.

Ben-Aderet said unless your situation is complicated, the answer is yes but always talk to your doctor, if you have any questions.