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New omicron-targeting boosters expected in NC, SC after Labor Day

With this week's federal greenlighting of new Pfizer and Moderna boosters, people in the Carolinas could be getting them as soon as next week.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North and South Carolinians could have access to new omicron-targeting COVID-19 boosters shortly after the Labor Day holiday. Both states' health agencies reported Friday they expect the new boosters to be in place next week.

The announcements follow the final federal approval of Pfizer's and Moderna's respective booster shots, which target the original strain of COVID-19, but more importantly, the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, signed off on the administration of the two boosters Thursday night.

“They can help restore protection that has waned since previous vaccination and were designed to provide broader protection,” Walensky said in a statement.

BA.4 and BA.5 are, collectively, virtually all of the COVID-19 cases in the United States.

Dr. Kody Kinsley, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, said the new vaccines will be important headed into the fall season, with more holidays on the way.

"As the weather gets colder, and we spend more time indoors, it is important to know you are protected before you go to gatherings, which means getting your COVID-19 vaccines and boosters," Kinsley said.

Health officials recommend getting either Pfizer or Moderna booster at least two months after completing a vaccine series or an old formulation booster.

Pfizer's shot is for those 12 and older, while Moderna's is for those 18 and older.

Based on state data on full vaccination rates, up to 63% of North Carolinians could be eligible for the boosters. Up to 53% of South Carolinians could be eligible.

South Carolina's Department of Health and Environmental Control said changing the COVID-19 vaccine to target the latest variants is similar to adjusting the flu vaccine every year to match the most common influenza strains circulating at the time.

Contact Vanessa Ruffes at vruffes@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

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