The Food and Drug Administration has shortened the time between the completion of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and a booster shot to five months for individuals 18 and older.
The revision of the emergency use authorization was announced Friday.
“The country is in the middle of a wave of the highly contagious omicron variant, which spreads more rapidly than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and other variants that have emerged,” said Dr. Peter Mark, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “Vaccination is our best defense against COVID-19, including the circulating variants, and shortening the length of time between completion of a primary series and a booster dose may help reduce waning immunity.
“Today’s action also brings consistency in the timing for administration of a booster dose among the available mRNA vaccines,” Dr. Mark said Friday. “We encourage everyone to get vaccinated. It’s never too late to get your COVID-19 vaccine or booster.”
The most common side effects for those who receive the Moderna booster include pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, as well as fatigue, headache, muscle or joint pain and chills.
COVID-19 cases have surged over the last two weeks in California, and Gov. Gavin Newsom and state officials are facing criticism for failing to deliver on their promise to provide rapid at-home tests to all students and school staff before schools reopened following the holiday break.
Meanwhile, California health officials have hope that the current surge could ease by February.
“My hope is that, you know, by the time we get to February, we’re on the downside of seeing that massive amount of community transmission,” Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County public health director, told The Associated Press.
In the last two weeks, COVID-19 cases have increased five-fold and hospitalizations have doubled to more than 8,000 in the state.
Los Angeles County, the state’s largest county with 10 million residents, reported more than 37,000 cases on Thursday, the county’s highest number since the pandemic started.
And on Friday, Santa Barbara County reported 1,137 new cases and two more deaths.
The surge is credited to the omicron variant, which was first detected in California in late November.
“We are and continue to be concerned about our hospitals. Some facilities are going to be strapped,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state Health and Human Services secretary, told KSBW8 Action News.