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The latest news about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 in Montana.

COVID variant boosters expected soon in Montana

New COVID-19 boosters targeting the latest variants of the virus are expected to be available in Montana starting this week.

The new booster will target both the original strain of the coronavirus and the currently dominant BA.4 and BA.5 variants. Federal health officials say the shots are necessary to combat a potential surge in cases later this year, with a potential peak in November and December.

According to the state health department, 53 percent of Montanans are fully vaccinated.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved new boosters from both Moderna and Pfizer. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still has to sign off on the shots, which is expected to happen before the end of this week.

Montana state health department spokesperson Jon Ebelt says the state has pre-ordered a little more than 21,000 shots. That figure includes both Moderna and Pfizer’s versions of the booster. Vaccines will also be available at pharmacies and other locations that receive direct allocations from the federal government.

People 18 and older will be able to receive Moderna’s new booster. Pfizer’s new booster will be available to those 12 years and older.

Aaron Bolton is Montana Public Radio's Flathead Valley reporter.