On September 1, the CDC approved the use of updated COVID-19 boosters from Pfizer-BioNTech for people ages 12 years and older and from Moderna for people ages 18 years and older. The new bivalent boosters add Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 spike protein components to the vaccine to increase protection against newer variants that are currently circulating in our communities.
The effort aims to encourage updated booster doses that include COVID variant protections. According to the CDC data tracker, only 48.4 percent of Americans got their first booster, and even fewer eligible Americans have gotten their second booster. With the rise of the Omicron variants, health providers encourage adults to be proactive about preventive care.
Why are booster shots important?
In general, booster shots train your body to recognize sickness and defend itself. And most people have been getting booster shots their whole life! Whether those boosters were for Hepatitis A, Varicella, Tdap, or even flu shots, it’s become standard practice.
Like other booster shots, COVID boosters help keep antibodies up-to-date. They can enhance or restore protection against the virus in your body. It’s your best defense to stay out of the hospital if you contract the disease, and it can save lives in the long run.
“The BA.5 variant remains dominant in our communities. Fall is coming, and like last year, we anticipate an increase in cases,” says Tamara Sheffield, MD, senior medical director of preventive medicine at Intermountain Healthcare. “Now is the time to protect yourself. This new booster is highly endorsed to protect caregivers and the community.”
Who is eligible to receive a single booster dose and when
Eligibility for a booster depends on a person’s age, when they finished their primary vaccination, and when they received their most recent dose of a monovalent COVID-19 vaccine.
- Individuals 18 years and older are eligible for a single booster dose of the Moderna COVID-19 bivalent vaccine if it has been at least two months since they have completed primary vaccination or have received the most recent booster dose with any authorized or approved monovalent COVID-19 vaccine.
- Individuals 12 years and older are eligible for a single booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 bivalent vaccine if it has been at least two months since they have completed primary vaccination or have received the most recent booster dose with any authorized or approved monovalent COVID-19 vaccine.
- No monovalent boosters are authorized anymore for ages 12+ years, and patients scheduled to receive a booster should be rescheduled for a time with the bivalent booster is available. However, the monovalent Pfizer booster is still recommended for healthy and immunocompromised children ages 5-11 years.
- For ages 5-11 years, the monovalent booster is given 5 months after the primary series for healthy children, and 3 months after the additional primary dose for immunocompromised children.
- Consider waiting 3 months after a COVID infection to receive a COVID vaccine dose.
- Novavax COVID vaccine for ages 12 years and older is not authorized as a booster dose, but those who received Novavax COVID vaccine as their primary series should get either a Pfizer or Moderna bivalent booster.
If you still have questions about your eligibility, or if you are ready to get booster-ed up, reach out to your doctor. Intermountain Healthcare COVID Resources can help you schedule an appointment.