When will a third COVID booster shot be available — and who can get it?

As COVID-19 stubbornly hangs around, vaccinations continue to be an important tool in fighting the contagious BA.5 variant — and a new round of boosters should be available within the next two months, said Dr. David Weber, distinguished professor of medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill.

That means a second booster could be had by those under 50, and a third booster — or fifth shot overall — for those 50 and over, Weber said.

Weber recommends the booster shots in all cases, and those with compromised immune systems should not wait.

”I don’t want to minimize COVID,” he said, noting 400 deaths a day nationwide. “Even though things are more back to normal.”

Both Durham and Orange counties are ranked as high-risk for infection — Wake slightly less at middle-risk — and the CDC stresses that boosters can both beef up the body’s defense and restore protection that may be wearing out.

To date, North Carolina has given more than 3.8 million booster doses statewide.

Of the state’s population, 59% of all residents have received at least one booster dose, while that number rises to 63% for people 18 and older and 88% for people 65 and older.

Current CDC booster recommendations

If you are 5 or older: The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recommends everyone get a first booster shot after the original two- vaccine series is complete.

If you are 50 or older: The CDC recommends a second booster shot.

If you are 12 or older AND immunocompromised: The CDC also thinks a second booster would be prudent.

Information on how and when to get vaccinated and/or boosted can be found at covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines.

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