*Please note that information may change quickly. This was updated September 6, 2022
The arrival of the bivalent COVID-19 booster is exciting news. This vaccine will provide better protection against the currently circulating COVID virus Omicron variants and hopefully provide good protection against any variants circulating this fall during flu season, which is likely to bring increased case rates later this year.
The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent, is authorized for use as a single booster dose in individuals 18 years of age and older if it has been at least two months since they have completed primary vaccination or since they have received their last booster dose with any authorized or approved monovalent COVID-19 vaccine. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent, is authorized for use as a single booster dose in individuals 12 years of age and older if it has been at least two months since they have completed primary vaccination or since they have received their last booster dose with any authorized or approved monovalent COVID-19 vaccine.
The boosters have been authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices as well as the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup and the Washington State Department of Health. The bivalent vaccines combine the companies’ original COVID-19 vaccine compositions with BA.4 and BA.5 spike protein components, providing additional protection by targeting variants that are more transmissible and immune-evading. The primary COVID-19 vaccine series will stay the same, given their proven efficacy in preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.
With the authorization of the new bivalent vaccines, the FDA has eliminated authorization for the monovalent boosters for those 12 and up. So if you are older than 12, you will need to get one of the bivalent booster doses. Children ages 5-11 who have completed their initial vaccine series should continue to get the monovalent booster, as a bivalent booster is not yet authorized for that age group. Children ages 6 months to 4 years do not yet have an authorized booster.
There may be some waiting for people to get the boosters depending on vaccine availability as well as their local providers’ staffing and capacity. We urge patience as providers work hard to make sure everyone who is due for a booster can get it, but this will take some time. Please contact your provider to confirm vaccine availability.