What Vaccine will Work for Omicron BA.5?

Erica Kahn
Erica Kahn23 Apr 2024
Reviewed and Fact Checked ✔️

In the U.S. there are currently four vaccines available to protect against severe COVID-19, including the Omicron BA.5 variant. Pfizer and Moderna are currently developing updated vaccines to specifically target new versions of Omicron that are predicted to be available in Fall 2022. 

The Current Situation with Omicron BA.5

  • Cases are soaring again, with Omicron BA.5 accounting for nearly two-thirds of infections in the U.S. This number is likely higher as most people are testing themselves with at-home kits which are not reported.
  • COVID-19 hospitalizations have doubled since May.
  • No states have reinstated mask mandates or social distancing protocols, leaving testing and vaccination as the predominant measures in reducing the spread of COVID-19.

About Omicron BA.5 

Omicron BA.5 is a subvariant of the Omicron variant and has three key mutations in its spike protein (a key characteristic of SARS-CoV-2 that allows the virus to cause infection). This mutation makes it more contagious and better at evading past immunity. 

BA.5 has become the predominant strain in the US and scientists are still learning about it. The Omicron strain is relatively mild compared to the Delta strain that preceded it, causing less severe disease and death. The CDC provides weekly updates to track the variants.  

Available Vaccines Protect Against the BA.5 Omicron Subvariant

There are currently four approved COVID-19 vaccines available in the US:

  1. Pfizer-BioNTech
  2. Moderna
  3. Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen
  4. Novavax*

All four vaccines are effective at decreasing the risk of severe illness due to COVID-19, including the BA.5 variant. As the virus continues to mutate, its variants are becoming more adept at evading past immunization. This means even if you had COVID-19, are vaccinated, and are boosted, you can still get infected.

*Novavax is the most recently approved vaccine for COVID-19 and has been authorized by the FDA on July 13, 2022 for use as a primary immunization series for adults. 

New Vaccines Are On the Way

Updated Covid-19 booster shots that target the Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 are expected to be approved in the Fall of 2022. However, it is not recommended to wait until these vaccines are approved to get vaccinated for COVID-19. 

If you are eligible, you should get boosted now, and if you are not vaccinated yet, you should get vaccinated right away in order to best protect yourself from the current surge in cases. 

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Erica Kahn

Erica graduated from Emory University in Atlanta with a BS in environmental science and a minor in English and is on track to graduate with her Master's in Public Health. She is passionate about health equity, women's health, and how the environment impacts public health.

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