9.8.22 – What is a Bivalent COVID Booster?

Hi, I’m Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, the Health Officer for Anne Arundel County. Welcome to our Weekly Health Update. Today, let’s talk about the new bivalent covid booster vaccines.

What is a bivalent COVID booster?

Up to now, COVID vaccines have targeted the original covid strain. As we know, COVID variants have made the vaccines a little less effective over time. The new bivalent vaccine provides protection against both the original strain and the new Omicron BA.4/BA.5 variants. This provides broader protection against covid and is just like what happens with the flu vaccine every year.

Is the bivalent COVID booster safe?

The basic ingredients used in both the Pfizer and Moderna bivalent boosters are the same as the original monovalent vaccine. Testing by Pfizer and Moderna of their original monovalent vaccines showed that the vaccines were safe. In reviewing the bivalent boosters, the FDA concluded that small changes in the vaccine target shouldn’t change the safety profile, in line with what is done with the flu vaccine.

Who is eligible for the bivalent COVID booster?

Anyone 12 and older who had their primary vaccine series or last booster more than 2 months ago is eligible for the bivalent booster. The bivalent booster can’t be used for the primary vaccine series. Those aged 5 to 11 who have completed the primary vaccine series should get boosted 5 months after their most recent dose with the original vaccine. Children ages 6 months to 4 years are currently not authorized for any COVID booster doses. 

Will the new booster shots prevent COVID infections completely?

The bivalent booster should be more effective at preventing COVID symptoms and the severe effects of COVID than the original vaccine. But some people will still get and transmit COVID even if they are vaccinated.

Where can I get the bivalent booster?

You can get the bivalent booster at the Health Department, pharmacies or with your healthcare provider.

Stay safe and be kind to yourself and others. We’ll see you next week.

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