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CDC approves COVID-19 vaccine to target omicron subvariants 

COLORADO. (KRDO) -- Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officially approved Pfizer and Moderna’s updated COVID-19 omicron doses designed to protect from the original COVID-19 virus and the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus.

The Food and Drug Administration authorized both vaccines under an Emergency Use Authorization on Wednesday, August 31. Pfizer’s omicron dose is authorized for people aged 12 years and older. Moderna’s omicron dose is approved for people aged 18 years and older. 

The CDC says anyone aged 12 years and older who has completed a primary series of COVID-19 vaccines should receive an omicron dose. A primary series usually means two doses of Pfizer, Moderna, or Novavax, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson.

According to the CDC, people who are immunocompromised may receive up to three doses in their primary series. Additionally, anyone who has previously received a third, fourth, or fifth dose — also known as booster doses — should receive an omicron dose. People should get their omicron dose at least two months after their most recent dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and can wait three months after a recent COVID-19 infection.

"All viruses mutate over time, including the COVID-19 virus,” said Dr. Eric France, chief medical officer for CDPHE. “It is common practice to adapt vaccines to target new strains of a virus, as we do every year with the flu vaccine. These omicron doses have been formulated to protect against the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants dominant in the United States and Colorado right now.”

Coloradans will soon be able to get an omicron dose at provider locations across the state, including primary care offices, local public health clinics, pharmacies, mobile vaccine buses, and community vaccination sites.

With today’s CDC approval, omicron doses will be available in Colorado starting in the coming days.

“The updated vaccines use the same technology as the vaccines that hundreds of millions of people have safely received,” added Diana Herrero, deputy director of the Division of Disease Control and Public Health Response for CDPHE. “This is the safest and most effective way to get the best protection in time for the fall and winter.”

The CDC says that Pfizer and Moderna’s omicron doses use the same mRNA-based technology as the original versions of the COVID-19 vaccines. Hundreds of millions of people have safely received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. In clinical studies, the new omicron doses successfully stimulated the immune system to produce antibodies. Antibodies are proteins in the blood that fight specific invaders in the body, like viruses.

As of August 31, 2022, Pfizer and Moderna’s original COVID-19 vaccines are only authorized as primary series vaccines for people aged 12 years and older. People too young to receive an omicron dose can still receive a third dose of the original COVID-19 vaccine, according to the CDC.

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