HOUSTON — New COVID-19 booster doses should arrive in Houston next week after the CDC signed off on the updated vaccines on Thursday. Experts hope the public rolls up their sleeves one more time to prevent a winter surge.
"Immunity seems to wane with time," said Dr. Cesar Arias with Houston Methodist Hospital.
Only half the U.S. population ever received their first booster. With winter coming and cases likely to rise, these new boosters are coming at the perfect time.
"I do think it's important going into the fall and winter to get everyone vaccinated with the new and modified vaccines," said Dr. Stacey Rose with Baylor College of Medicine.
Pfizer and Moderna have updated their boosters, which are known as bivalent vaccines. That means they combine parts of the original vaccine with new components aimed at targeting the more transmissible omicron subvariants.
Pfizer's available for those 12 and older. Moderna is available for those 18 and up.
The CDC approved the new boosters without waiting for human trial results, but that's similar to the process for updated flu vaccines every year.
"This is safe and this is effective," said Rose. "I don't think folks should hesitate getting vaccinated with the bivalent, newer vaccine."
Texas Department of State Health Services says 900,000 doses are heading to Texas next week, which includes 502,500 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 192,800 doses of the Moderna vaccine.
Another 200,000 doses will be shipped to large pharmacies like HEB, CVS, Walgreens and Walmart.
"We have to keep in mind people are still dying of this disease," said Rose.
Doctors say COVID-19 death rates still outpace a regular influenza season, so if it's been at least two months since your last booster, make the time to get the new and improved shot to keep you and your family out of the hospital.
"Part of the puzzle in getting back to a normal world order has been vaccination," said Rose.
People can use the vaccine finder at vaccines.gov to locate a provider with doses of the new boosters in stock starting next week.