The Food and Drug Administration could give emergency authorization to the next COVID-19 booster as early as Friday as the country prepares for a possible spike in cases this fall.
Once the booster gets FDA authorization, it goes before a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee Tuesday. From there, it's expected to get the green light from the CDC’s director. Once the CDC signs off, the public could get the new booster as early as next week.
Experts with Johns Hopkins say the most prevalent variant in the U.S. is the highly transmissible EG.5.
They say it makes up 17% of cases and is closely related to the XBB variants that have been circulating over the past six months.
The good news is that the new booster is expected to offer better protection against current strains than previous boosters.
Data from the CDC reveals new hospitalizations have been on the rise each week since early July.
“I would imagine we're going to see an increase as we get into the fall,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, adding a reminder for Americans in the most vulnerable age and health groups: “The elderly and those with underlying conditions may want to as the cases increase to wear a mask when they're in indoor settings.”
The Department of Health and Human Services says its bridge access program should keep the booster free for most uninsured Americans through next year, although out-of-pocket costs could vary.
And if you have insurance, as long as you stay in-network, you shouldn’t have to pay much, if anything.
Ahead of a potential fall surge, President Joe Biden said he plans to ask Congress for additional funding for vaccines and tracking.
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