Federal and state public health agencies have authorized a new COVID-19 booster vaccine that targets the Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, which are currently the dominant versions of the coronavirus. The new booster is authorized for ages 12 and up.
The new Moderna and Pfizer boosters are bivalent vaccines. This means they target both the original strain of coronavirus as well as the Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5. The new boosters have replaced the original versions of the coronavirus vaccines for booster doses only.
Who is eligible for the new bivalent booster?
Pfizer’s booster is authorized for anyone age 12 and up, while the Moderna booster is for anyone 18 and older. To get the new vaccine, a person must have received the initial COVID-19 vaccine series or a booster at least two months prior to vaccination.
“The Pfizer and Moderna boosters both target Omicron and use similar mRNA technology to boost the immune system in the same way,” said Adam Brady, MD, of Samaritan Infectious Disease.
What kind of protection does the new booster provide?
Like the previous boosters, the updated boosters are expected to create antibodies that are more specific to the currently circulating omicron variant. This is expected to offer increased immunity and decrease the risks of becoming infected with COVID-19 or having a severe infection.
“While the data is still being gathered, we have every reason to believe this new booster will do a better job of preventing breakthrough infections than the previous one,” said Dr. Brady.
Where can I get the new booster vaccine?
The new bivalent boosters are available at Samaritan primary care clinics, Samaritan Pharmacy locations and SamCare Express in Corvallis. Booster doses arrive weekly, though at this time supplies are limited. Visit samhealth.org/GetTheVaccine for more information about vaccination opportunities.