Emily Rice Published

New COVID-19 Vaccine Protects Against Variants

A physician holds up a vial of a COVID-19 Vaccine.
A vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine ready for administration.
Victoria Jones/Pool/Getty Images

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agreed with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s decision to approve a new COVID-19 vaccine.

In a prerecorded update recorded the evening of Sept. 12, Dr. Clay Marsh, the state’s coronavirus czar, provided updates surrounding the new vaccine.

“The recommendation of the advisory committee was to make the shots available for all Americans six months and older, and that’s really exciting,” Marsh said. “Because we know this particular shot, which is designed to target the most common variants, the most common forms of COVID-19 that are circulating right now.”

Marsh said the vaccine will protect from the most common strains of the virus and reduce the risk of Long COVID or Post-COVID Conditions by 50 percent.

“And we also know that long COVID happens to about 10 to 15 percent of people that have been infected with COVID-19,” he said. “The risk of long COVID goes up the more times you’re infected, so it’s really important for all age categories to consider getting the updated COVID shot as part of your protection against death and illness but also against long COVID.”

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) reported five additional deaths attributed to COVID-19 since last week’s update for a total of 8,188.

“People who are older, and people whose immune systems are not normal, are at the highest risk of severe disease,” Marsh said. “And that’s important because we’ve seen about a 16 percent increase in hospitalizations over the last week or week and a half. And also we’ve seen an increase in the number of deaths from COVID.”

The new vaccines are manufactured by Moderna and by Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech.

Updated COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be free for most with private health insurance or coverage through Medicare or Medicaid.

This will be the first time the federal government is not buying all the COVID-19 vaccines and distributing them for free, so doctors, hospitals and pharmacies must order them directly.

A federal program to provide free shots to uninsured people at pharmacies will likely launch in mid-October, according to the CDC.

“We know that we’re seeing a slight surge, a slight increase in the risk of spreading COVID-19,” Marsh said. “So the timing of this new COVID-19 shot could not be better.”

Visit the West Virginia COVID-19 Vaccination Due Date Calculator to determine when you may be due for a COVID-19 shot.

“Please don’t hesitate to visit our vaccine calculator at vaccinate.wv.gov which is updating even as we speak with the newest recommendations from the FDA and the CDC,” Marsh said. “Also check with your local pharmacies or your medical practices to find out when the vaccines will become available.”

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting with support from Charleston Area Medical Center and Marshall Health.