Now available: Where to get updated COVID boosters in Georgia

Keyonna Billingslea received her Covid booster shot by AEMT Luogo Adames during a vaccine event at Atlanta City Hall on June 25, 2022.  Steve Schaefer /

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Keyonna Billingslea received her Covid booster shot by AEMT Luogo Adames during a vaccine event at Atlanta City Hall on June 25, 2022. Steve Schaefer /

An updated COVID-19 booster that targets the omicron subvariants circulating now as well as the original virus, have arrived in Georgia for people as young as 12.

Starting Wednesday, the reformulated boosters were available at several Walgreens and CVS pharmacies as well as other pharmacies and some county health departments. They will become more widely available as more shipments arrive over the coming days. To find an updated booster, go to

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky endorsed a recommendation by an advisory panel to allow the boosters to be delivered.

The redesigned boosters target the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants and are only for people who have already had their primary vaccinations using the original vaccines. Doses made by Pfizer are for anyone 12 and older, while Moderna’s updated shots are for adults 18 and over — if it has been at least two months since their last primary vaccination or their latest booster.

Public health officials believe the updated boosters will provide longer-lasting protection against the virus and reduce hospitalizations this fall and winter, a time when people tend to crowd together inside and COVID cases rise. The new boosters target both the original strain that emerged in China more than two years ago, which scientists refer to as the “wild type,” along with BA.4 and BA.5, which are now the dominant variants in the U.S.

The vaccine makers developed the original vaccines against the strain of coronavirus that first emerged in Wuhan, China, in 2019. But the virus has mutated significantly since then. As a result, the original vaccine’s effectiveness at preventing infection and mild illness has declined substantially as the virus has evolved. Though the older vaccines are still generally effective at preventing severe disease, the protection they provide against hospitalization has diminished over time.

For now, those under 18 seeking a Moderna booster, and those under 12 seeking a Pfizer booster can only receive the original booster formulation. The CDC said in a statement that it “also expects to recommend updated COVID-19 boosters for other pediatric groups” in the coming weeks.

But the big question is whether people will roll up their sleeves again. Most people in Georgia have not received a first booster, according to an analysis of data from the CDC.

The speed of the development of these tweaked vaccines is due to a strategy that skips a common step in the testing process: Vaccine makers have yet to complete human trials for the new booster shot.

Most of the available data on the redesigned booster comes from lab and animal studies, causing some to question whether there’s enough data to ensure its safety and efficacy. But the Food and Drug Administration maintains millions of people have safely received mRNA vaccines, a new technology that was tested in humans before the first COVID vaccine was approved. They say changes in the vaccine formula to better target the current virus does not affect its safety.

Georgia is seeing an average of 3,000 cases of COVID reported weekly. More than 89% of newly reported COVID cases are caused by the BA.5 variant. After a recent uptick, the number of hospitalizations has declined but is still above 1,000 people in Georgia, standing at 1,100 Wednesday.