The updated COVID-19 booster is now available in North Carolina for children and teens five and older.

The statewide rollout follows emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration and a nod from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new booster allows kids to get the most up-to-date protection by targeting both the original coronavirus strain as well as omicron variants BA.4 and 5. Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist infectious diseases expert Dr. Christopher Ohl says now is the time to get the shot.

"The immunity that you have gotten from either past vaccination or from getting infected is not as good against BA.4 and BA.5," says Ohl. "And even a little bit more worrisome are two other variants."

Ohl says the new omicron mutations BA.4.6 and BF.7 don’t appear to be any more severe than their parent variants, but they are more likely to get around the immunity built up from earlier vaccinations or infection. He anticipates they will account for at least half of what’s circulating here in the Triad by January of next year.

The good news? Ohl says early indicators suggest the fall COVID booster will address the new omicron variants as well.

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