Everyone Needs an Updated COVID Shot This Fall, CDC Says (2024)

Key Takeaways

  • The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get an updated COVID vaccine when they become available this fall.
  • The shots should be ready by August or September.
  • Vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna will target the KP.2 variant, while Novavax will target JN.1.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday recommended that everyone 6 months and older get an updated COVID vaccine when manufacturers release them this fall.

The agency made its decision following a meeting of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which found that the virus continues to cause illness, especially as it mutates over time, leaving people less protected even if they were vaccinated or previously had COVID.

Anticipating new fall vaccines, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has asked vaccine manufacturers to target a newer COVID variant called KP.2.

Pfizer and Moderna said they will be able to create such a vaccine by the fall thanks to mRNA technology, which is faster to manipulate and update than protein subunit vaccines like Novavax. Novavax said its fall vaccine will target an earlier COVID variant called JN.1, which it was in the process of developing before the FDA asked the brands to pivot. Novavax expects its vaccine to be protective against KP.2 as well.

The FDA Now Wants Fall COVID Vaccines to Target KP.2—But Not All Manufacturers Can Pivot

“Given the manufacturing time needed for vaccines, it’s difficult to fully match them to the variants circulating at the time they are administered,” Anne Monroe, MD, an associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at George Washington University in Washington, DC, told Verywell.

Still, Monroe advises everyone eligible to get the updated vaccine when it’s available.

“Updated vaccines can help protect against infection, hospitalizations, and severe disease and may prevent you from spreading the virus to someone vulnerable if you get sick,” she said. “People are still dying of this virus.”

Studies have shown that vaccines are somewhat protective against getting a COVID infection but very protective against severe disease, Robert Hopkins, MD, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Disease and a liaison to ACIP, told Verywell. Data presented during the ACIP meeting showed that only 11% of hospitalized adult patients between October 2023 and March 2024 had received the 2023-2024 COVID vaccine. In 2023, according to the agency, more than 916,300 people were hospitalized due to COVID, and more than 75,500 people died from the virus.

The recommendation for the updated COVID vaccine applies even to people who have never received a vaccine for the virus. Older vaccines are no longer available, so first-timers will start with the vaccine that will be updated this fall.

If you are 65 and older and/or have a chronic illness, you may have gotten an updated COVID vaccine targeting XBB.1.5 any time since last spring. Hopkins said you are still eligible for another one this coming fall as long as it has been four months since your last dose.

Hopkins says that since COVID cases are rising right now, there are a few things people should do if they get sick:

  • Stay home to help prevent spreading COVID to others, especially older adults and people at risk of severe disease from COVID.
  • Get tested if you’re unsure that your illness is COVID. Once you have a confirmed diagnosis, you may be able to start effective medication like Paxlovid.

What This Means For You

Use this search engine to find a COVID vaccine in your neighborhood and to find updated vaccines when they become available in the fall. The new shots are expected by August or September.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit ourcoronavirus news page.

2 Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

By Fran Kritz
Kritz is a healthcare reporter with a focus on health policy. She is a former staff writer for Forbes Magazine and U.S. News and World Report.

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Everyone Needs an Updated COVID Shot This Fall, CDC Says (2024)
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