New COVID-19 Vaccines for 2023-24

September 29, 2023 | Announcement

The CDC has authorized a new COVID-19 vaccine. Here’s what you need to know.

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published updated recommendations for this year's respiratory virus season. The virus that causes COVID-19 is always changing, which is why we often hear about new variants or strains of the virus. The vaccines that many of us received, including the original vaccines and bivalent booster shots, were effective at protecting us against the variants that were dominant at the time they were developed and released. Staying up to date on vaccines is one of the best ways to prevent severe illness from COVID-19!

Who needs the updated vaccine?

Everyone ages 6 months and older should receive the updated 2023-24 COVID vaccine, and now is the time! The CDC reports that in the past two months, emergency room visits and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have increased across the United States. Infants less than 6 months old and adults over 75 years old are at highest risk for hospitalization. Getting your updated vaccine as soon as possible protects you and your loved ones from COVID-19.

Most patients need just ONE dose of the 2023-24 vaccine to be up to date, even if they’ve never been vaccinated.

Is this just another booster?

No. We are hitting the reset button with COVID vaccines, which will be updated every year, much like the flu shot. While the bivalent booster shots released last year targeted the original strain of the virus as well as Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5, the updated vaccines protect against the strain of the virus that is currently circulating in the United States: the XBB.1.5 Omicron subvariant.

Most people will get a COVID shot once a year. You need the updated shot to protect you against current strains, even if you had boosters before.

Is the COVID vaccine safe?

Yes. Billions of doses have been safely administered worldwide, with hundreds of millions given in the United States. The CDC actively monitors the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, and continues to find that the benefits of vaccination outweigh any potential risks. In other words, any reaction the average person may have to the COVID-19 vaccine would be less harmful to their health than if they were infected with the virus and became ill.

Reactions to COVID-19 vaccines are mild and manageable, and include arm soreness, fatigue, and headache.

Is the vaccine effective?

Yes. Studies showed that the updated 2023-24 vaccine increased antibody levels against current variants, including BA.2.86 and EG.5. Scientists predict that this season’s COVID vaccines will prevent as many as 400,000 hospitalizations and 40,000 deaths.

COVID-19 vaccines are proven to reduce severe symptoms, long COVID, hospitalizations, and deaths. These vaccines save lives!

The public health emergency is over, but COVID-19 is here to stay.

Get your updated COVID vaccine for the 2023-24 season, and protect yourself and your loved ones from preventable illness and death.

Most people in the United States can still get a COVID-19 vaccine for free. Most health insurance plans will cover the cost of the vaccine with no cost to you. People who are uninsured can get free vaccines at a healthcare provider or pharmacy participating in the CDC's Vaccine for Children or Bridge Access programs. Visit to find a provider near you!

BCM's Health Equity team also administers free vaccines and health screenings at community health clinics in the Pittsburgh area.