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New COVID-19 vaccine boosters may be available as early as next week

UPI
If approved, vaccination could begin soon after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices meets on Tuesday. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI

New COVID-19 booster shots could soon pass the needed hurdles for vaccinations to begin next week.

Sources familiar with U.S. Food and Drug Administration plans say boosters could be approved as soon as Friday, NBC News reported.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is scheduled to meet on Tuesday. CDC director Dr. Mandy Cohen could sign off soon after, allowing vaccinations to begin.

The boosters from Pfizer and Moderna target the XBB.1.5 omicron subvariant.

That's no longer the dominant variant circulating, but those that are spreading are closely related, and health experts say this booster could still offer some protection.

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This time, the FDA may grant full approval for the boosters rather than emergency use authorization, according to NBC News sources.

If the FDA doesn't approve the boosters on Friday, it could do so early next week.

While protection wanes over time, about 97% of adults have some level of protective immunity from past COVID-19 infections and vaccinations. These shots are expected to boost that coverage.

They will, however, come at a price. For the first time, the federal government is not covering costs of the shots.

Most people with private and public health insurance should still be able to receive them for free. Those who are uninsured may be able to get them at community health centers.

Others may have to pay. The full price is expected to be $110 to $130 per dose, according to NBC News.

Whether someone can get their shots covered, and when they can get them, will depend on their insurance, said Jennifer Kates, director of the Global Health & HIV Policy Program at KFF, a nonprofit health policy organization.

The Biden administration has announced a "bridge" program to offer uninsured people access to free boosters through 2024.

Kates said that a vaccine made by Novavax, which is available through emergency use authorization, will continue to be covered.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a new risk assessment of a currently circulating strain of COVID-19.

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