WEST MONROE, La. (KTVE/KARD) — On Thursday, September 1st, 2022, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, signed off the recommendation of the agency’s independent vaccine advisers. This was in favor of an update for Covid-19 vaccine boosters from Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted 13 to 1 earlier today to recommend updated mRNA boosters for Americans this fall. Dr. Walensky’s decision means the shots could be available by Friday, September 2nd, according to pharmaceutical manufacturers. They had already begun shipping the new doses after the US Food and Drug Administration authorized them Wednesday.

Per CNN: “The updated COVID-19 boosters are formulated to better protect against the most recently circulating COVID-19 variant,” Walensky said in a statement. “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 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.

Moderna’s updated vaccine is a 50-microgram dose authorized for people 18 and older. Pfizer/BioNTech’s updated vaccine is a 30-microgram dose authorized for people 12 and older.

People are eligible for the updated boosters as long as they have completed all primary doses in their vaccine series. The new formulations do not replace shots for the primary series. It is recommended by the committee that the new boosters be given at least two months after the last dose of any Covid-19 vaccine and up to three months after infection.

The boosters were approved based on studies in mice bred to have human ACE-2 receptors, which allows viruses like Covid-19 and the flu to get into our cells. But clinical trial data showing how well they may work in humans won’t be available for up to two months.

Several of the committee members said Thursday that they were uncomfortable recommending a vaccine with no human data to back it. According to CNN, “So I’m just concerned about that extrapolation. And because and ultimately, I really don’t want to establish a precedent of recommending a vaccine that we don’t have clinical data,” said Dr. Pablo Sanchez, who voted against the recommendation.

On Thursday, September 1st, the committee saw new modeling data that suggested there were risks to waiting to roll out new boosters. According to the CDC’s forecasts, boosters given to US adults in September could prevent 137,000 more hospitalizations and 9,700 deaths than if the boosters were held until November.

According to the data provided by the CDC, about two-thirds of the total US population is vaccinated against Covid-19 with an initial series. But less than half of those with their initial series have also gotten a booster, which is less than a third of the entire population.