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New COVID booster on the way as cases on the rise in Chicago, across U.S.

New COVID booster on the way as cases on the rise in Chicago, across U.S.
New COVID booster on the way as cases on the rise in Chicago, across U.S. 02:33

CHICAGO (CBS) – The Food and Drug Administration signed off on Monday on updated COVID-19 vaccines. The new shots come as cases are surging across the country.

As CBS 2's Asal Rezaei reported, people won't have to wait long to get those boosters out. It could be a matter of weeks.

Experts at the University of Chicago Medicine said if someone's vaccine card isn't up to date, the new rollout is a good opportunity to catch up. The shots are for anyone age 6 months and older.

It's a familiar vile with a new formula intended to help fight Omicron subvariants spreading across the country.

"What the FDA approved today was an mRNA COVID vaccine that is sort of formulated against this specific Omicron variant," said Dr. Aniruddha Hazra, an infectious disease specialist at UChicago Medicine.

The new vaccine comes as COVID-19-related deaths and hospitalizations continue to rise.

"What we're seeing in Chicago is mirroring what the CDC has noted across the country that we are seeing a rise in the number of cases that are being hospitalized for COVID-19," said Hazra.

CDC data show hospitalizations nationwide are up nearly 15%. COVID-19-related deaths this summer, between July 15 and September were up just over 10%.

In Chicago, COVID-19-related hospitalizations were up 21%.

"80% of Americans are not up to date with their current vaccinations for COVID-19, meaning that it might be already two years since their last COVID-19 vaccine," Hazra said. "If you find yourself in this group, I think it's really important to consider."

This time around, the federal government isn't providing the shots, leaving hospitals and pharmacies on their own to order them directly.

For now, experts say the shots will be free for most people with private health insurance or coverage through Medicare or Medicaid. The Biden administration is also working to provide the shots without cost to those without insurance.

"We think about folks that have had COVID in the past or in the recent past, really the general consensus is it's about three months is what people can wait before sort of proceeding with a vaccine or a booster," Hazra said.

The CDC's Committee on Immunization Practices will meet Tuesday to approve the new vaccine. If and when they do so, health officials expect to have them ready to distribute by the end of September.

Patients will year more in the coming weeks about exactly when they can make an appointment. Also, it might be best to wait until then to get the new vaccine, instead of getting the old vaccine now.

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