NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 03: In this photo illustration, a medical syringe and vials of the Pfizer US pharmaceutical corporation and BioNTech German biotechnology 2021 company logos are seen on October 03, 2021 in New York City. Pfizer and BioNTech announced its conclude phase 3 study of COVID-19 vaccine candidate with 95% primary efficacy analysis, as the media reported on 18 November 2020. (Photo Illustration by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Pfizer/BioNTech)

(AP) – Pfizer says tweaking its COVID-19 vaccine to better target the omicron variant is safe and boosts protection. Saturday’s announcement comes just days before regulators debate whether to offer Americans updated booster shots this fall. The current COVID-19 vaccines still offer strong protection against hospitalization and death. But protection against infection has dropped markedly with the omicron variant, and now its even more transmissible relatives are spreading. Pfizer says either an omicron-targeted booster or a combination shot that mixes the original vaccine with omicron protection substantially increases protection. Rival Moderna hopes to offer a similar combination shot.