Some apathetic as Omicron booster shot could be available in as little as three weeks

DeJuan Hoggard Image
Wednesday, August 17, 2022
EMBED <>More Videos

Drug makers Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are both working on a bivalent COVID-19 booster that attacks the original virus strain and the current and highly-transmissible BA.5 Omicron variant.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Local, county and state leaders across the country are awaiting guidance from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control on the fate of the highly-anticipated Omicron booster shot.

Drug makers Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are both working on a bivalent COVID-19 booster that attacks the original virus strain and the current and highly-transmissible BA.5 Omicron variant.

"I take my vitamins and stuff every day. So whatever keeps my immune system strong, I'm on it," said Wake County resident Chris Morgan. "I don't really see the purpose of getting (the booster)...I never got the virus so I don't think I really need the booster."

Morgan is not alone in his apathy to the booster.

RELATED: CDC director announces shake-up, citing COVID mistakes

In North Carolina, 59% of those who are vaccinated have at least one additional dose of the vaccine or booster.

"If it gets worse again, then I probably will think about it more," said college student Nick Wisecarver. He is vaccinated but has yet to receive a booster shot. "At the moment, I'm not thinking too heavily about it. I'm not waiting on anything. I think about it sometimes whether it's needed or not. I haven't gotten sick, I haven't gotten COVID before. So at this point in time, it's not on my mind to get a booster but it's always in my mind to think about the option. So I go back and forth."

Morgan added: "I haven't really seen a lot of people that's been sick that I've been around."

The 65-plus age group remains the demographic with the highest amount of vaccinated people who have received the booster.

That is likely because a second booster shot is currently only available to adults 50 and older and people aged 12 and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised.

"I think that it's foolish to just give (the booster) to people over 50," said UNC Hospitals' Dr. David Wohl. "I think we know how many people who have had their third dose or their first booster. It's been months and months ago. We should protect everyone."

Wake County Public Health and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services are awaiting further guidance from the FDA and the CDC on when the updated booster will be available and whether people outside of the current second booster eligibility pool will be eligible as well.

"The original vaccines are still working really, really well. But we don't want to get infected at all," said Wohl. "That's why we need something that's more specific for what's circulating right now."

The FDA and CDC both say there will be a "sufficient but finite supply" of the upcoming bivalent COVID-19 vaccines available. The agencies anticipate demand will be high among "eligible patients" and could become available as soon as three weeks from now.

Once the vaccine makers receive emergency use authorization, providers can begin ordering the booster shots on the respective date the EUA is approved, which won't be until after Labor Day.

Wohl anticipated that drug manufacturers will ultimately develop a booster that is effective against all strains.

"Eventually I think we'll see we'll jump from the iPhone 1.0 to the iPhone 14 of vaccines. It's just taking some time," he said.