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VERIFY: Booster now, or wait for omicron-targeted shot? Here's what doctors say

With cases spiking again amid BA.5's spread and a new omicron-specific shot expected this fall, some are wondering whether they should wait for the new booster.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — To boost or not to boost? That is the question swirling on social media as the omicron subvariant BA.5 spikes infections nationwide and the promise of an omicron-targeted booster sits on the horizon.

As the current COVID-19 vaccine schedules space out booster doses months apart from each other and from primary vaccine series, some online are saying, if they get a booster now, they won't be eligible for the new formulation as soon as it is ready, supposedly in the fall.

THE QUESTION

Are health officials encouraging people to get boosted now, if they're eligible?

OUR SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is true.

Yes, health officials recommend people get boosted if they are eligible, rather than wait until the omicron-targeted boosters arrive on the market.

WHAT WE FOUND

While the exact timing is still unclear, some vaccine-makers have told the FDA to expect boosters targeting the concerning and collectively dominant strains BA.4 and BA.5 in October. 

Current boosters are still the same formulation as at the beginning of the pandemic. However, doctors assure they still work against the worst outcomes of the virus, like hospitalization and death.

According to the CDC's guidance, everyone 5 years old and up can get one booster. Immunocompromised people and those 50 years old and up can get two boosters.

"My suggestion is, if you're due for a booster, you should go ahead and get it, especially if you're older or if you have other medical conditions," Priest said.

NCDHHS recommends the same, urging anyone eligible to boost now. 

Priest doesn't think getting boosted now would necessarily prevent a person from getting the new omicron shot in a few months. 

"I don't think getting those fairly close together poses any danger," Priest said. "You'd hate to be waiting on a booster that we don't know when it's coming, and then end up with a severe case or in the hospital." 

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

VERIFY is dedicated to helping the public distinguish between true and false information. The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, tracks the spread of stories or claims that need clarification or correction. Have something you want VERIFIED? Text us at 704-329-3600 or visit /verify.

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