Special to Atmore News
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has recommended the first updated COVID-19 boosters which target both the original strain of the virus and two of the Omicron variants (BA.4 and BA.5). People ages 12 and older are eligible to receive Pfizer-BioNTech boosters and people ages 18 and older may receive Moderna boosters which provide broader protection against the newer variants.
Vaccine will begin being shipped to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) in the coming days. ADPH has preordered at least 69,900 doses of the bivalent boosters, including about 54,300 doses of Pfizer bivalent vaccine and 15,600 doses of Moderna bivalent vaccine which are due to arrive within the next two weeks.
Individuals are eligible for the bivalent booster two months after their last primary or booster dose of any vaccine. Current mRNA COVID-19 vaccines produced by both Pfizer and Moderna, however, are no longer authorized to be used as boosters in individuals ages 12 and older.
Booster doses use reduced amounts of the original vaccines. Only individuals who have completed their primary vaccination series (two doses of Pfizer or Moderna or one dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine) are eligible to receive the bivalent booster. Previously vaccinated people may receive either the Pfizer or Moderna bivalent booster, regardless of which primary series vaccine or original booster dose they had received before.
People who have recently received Novovax are not yet eligible for any booster at this time. The original formulations of Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and Novovax will continue to be used for the primary series.
Authorization for administration to those under age 12 is expected in the near future, but the timeline is not yet known. Parents are encouraged to have their children complete the primary series of the current vaccines so that they will be eligible for the bivalent booster in the future.
Young children are advised to become fully vaccinated as soon as possible to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death. Parents of children under 12 should consider having them receive the original booster at this time to increase their defenses against the virus with group activities now occurring.
Information about COVID-19 vaccine providers and clinics can be found at alabamapublichealth.gov. Locations where COVID-19 vaccine is available can be viewed at vaccines.gov/.