The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced on Sept. 2 that updated Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine boosters will be available to people aged 12 and older starting this month.
This booster vaccine targets the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, as well as the original coronavirus strain.
According to the NCDHHS, the subvariants made up nearly 90 percent of COVID-19 cases in North Carolina in mid-August.
“This vaccine will provide the most up-to-date protection against the latest variants and will help renew your body’s defense system against severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19,” NCDHHS Secretary Kody Kinsley said in a press release.
According to data from the NCDHHS, 77 percent of North Carolinians over age 18 are currently vaccinated with at least one dose, and 63 percent of that population have at least one booster or an additional dose.
The press release said people should get the updated COVID-19 booster two months after they finish their primary series or receive any booster dose.
“Staying up to date with vaccines and boosters is our best tool against this virus,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in a tweet on Sept. 6.
Dr. David Wohl, a professor at UNC’s Institute of Global Health and Infectious Diseases, said as long as BA.5 remains the dominant COVID-19 variant, many people are protected and infection numbers will not be as high as they have been previously.
“I’m hopeful that this vaccine plus everything that’s gone on in the last couple months where people are catching BA.5 left and right will help us have fewer cases,” Wohl said.