New, redesigned COVID-19 booster shots could be available in Minnesota as early as Tuesday

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Just one day after the CDC’s final approval of new, redesigned COVID-19 boosters, Alexis Colaizzi was ready to get hers.

“This is so exciting to be here, getting protected against omicron,” she said. “I’m a mom of three children, I have elderly parents and in-laws.”

It’s the first redesigned COVID-19 vaccine since 2020.

The new bivalent boosters were developed to generate an immune response from the original coronavirus as well as the BA.4 and BA.5 variants.

Health experts say those variants account for 99% of all new COVID cases.  

“We finally have updated vaccines that do a better job of matching to the circulating variants,” says John Brownstein, an epidemiologist at the Harvard Medical School.

Governor Tim Walz says the boosters — one from Pfizer, one from Moderna, will be available for Minnesotans by next week.

He says doses are expected to be shipping here immediately, and that a state-run vaccination site is being set up at Mall of America, to take appointments starting next Wednesday.

Sites in St. Paul, Rochester, Duluth and Moorhead are scheduled to open the following week.

Some private pharmacy websites are making appointments available for the new boosters as early as Tuesday.  

The boosters also are part of a new approach in tackling the coronavirus.

“The hope here is not to have to give lots of vaccines each year,” says Dr. Peter Marks, the FDA’s vaccine chief. “It’s hopefully to have this be the vaccine that holds us up for as much of this, or for the entire season if it can.”

Health officials say they’re trying to get ahead of an expected fall surge, when people will be spending more time indoors.

The federal government says it’s ordered 171-million shots — enough for anyone who wants one.

“We’ve been doing all this preparation despite the lack of funding from Congress,” says White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. “But we have been prepared for this particular moment to make sure we got shots in arms.”

As of Friday, the White House suspended the offer of free at-home COVID-19 tests.

ABC News is reporting that 600-million of those tests have been distributed across the country.

A federal government website says the pause is due to a lack of congressional funding — but is also being put into place to preserve a limited remaining supply, in the event of a surge in cases in the coming months.

As far as the new boosters — people are eligible two months after their most recent shot.

Children 12 years and older can get the Pfizer booster.

The Moderna booster is available for those 18 and older.

There’s still no clear timeline on when children under the age of 12 can get the updated shots.

Experts say that rollout could begin in the next month or so.

“We’re not going to eradicate COVID-19,” declares Dr. Alok Patel, with Stanford Children’s Health. “But we have to do what we can to hedge our behavior against any potential infections, fall surge, and also long COVID.”