Omicron-specific COVID-19 booster may be available in a few weeks, officials say

A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 booster shot.
Michael Stremfel, owner of Flintridge Pharmacy in La Canada, prepares a COVID-19 booster in November 2021. New boosters tailored to the Omicron subvariant are due to be available in the coming weeks, health officials said.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

The Omicron-specific COVID-19 booster may be available in a few weeks, assuming federal agencies sign off on the new shot, a top White House COVID-19 official said this week.

The booster has been widely expected for months, especially since the latest dominant Omicron subvariant, BA.5, “looks really different in lots and lots of ways from the original strain that we built the vaccines against,” Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said this week in a forum with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“The good news is, our vaccines are still doing a remarkable job of keeping people out of the hospital, particularly out of the ICU and worse,” Jha said. “But the impact on these vaccines on preventing infection has declined over time because of this evolution” of the Omicron strain.


U.S. regulators say they are no longer considering authorizing second COVID-19 booster shots for all adults under 50 this summer.

July 29, 2022

The new booster “should be arriving in the next few weeks,” Jha said. They “will become available by early to mid-September,” if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authorize the shots.

Jha said he expected the booster to be available for adults, whether they’ve received earlier boosters or not, and regardless of whether they’ve recently been infected. But it will be the FDA and CDC who ultimately set criteria on what age groups will be eligible for the booster.

The new Omicron booster will be what’s known as a bivalent shot, designed against both the original coronavirus strain and the BA.5 Omicron subvariant.

Health officials stress that at-home tests are a vital and accurate way of tracking COVID-19 infections but an initial negative test doesn’t mean people are out of the woods.

Aug. 17, 2022

“These are substantial upgrades in our vaccines, in terms of their ability to prevent infection, to prevent transmission, certainly to prevent serious illness and death,” Jha said.


“And so it’s going to be really important that people this fall and winter get the new shot. It’s designed for the virus that’s out there. And, again, based on everything we have seen so far, all the data suggests it should be highly effective against the new variants,” Jha said.