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Should I Wait for Omicron-Specific Boosters?

Moderna and Pfizer are working on new versions of their vaccines that will specifically target the highly contagious omicron variant.

Moderna and Pfizer are working on new versions of their vaccines that will specifically target the highly contagious omicron variant.

Photographer: Hannah Beier/Bloomberg

Hi, it’s Kristen in New York City, here with our Sunday Q&A. Each week Prognosis picks one reader question and puts it to experts. We’ve been focused on Covid-19 for the past two years, and this week we’re looking at whether it makes sense to wait for omicron-specific vaccines before getting boosted. Going forward, we’ll be tackling all kinds of health questions. But first...

My wife and I have debated whether and when to get our second Covid booster. We have waited to get a fourth shot for a new, modified formula. Any idea when a new booster will arrive? — Mike in Austin, Texas

The booster-timing game has become a familiar part of this stage of the pandemic. In much of the world, we’re back to business as (pretty much) usual. But while there’s little chance of severe illness if you’re vaccinated, Covid still threatens to upend all those fun things we’re planning. If you time your shot well, you’ll worry less about FOMO. 

Now, though, there’s a new variable in these calculations. Omicron is the most wily Covid variant we’ve seen so far — it has proven adept at evading protection from vaccination and even recent illness. So vaccine manufacturers have been working on an updated shot that would be better-suited to fending off the highly contagious variant.