Omicron Booster - Updated (Bivalent) COVID-19 Vaccines
What is new about this booster?
The new Pfizer and Moderna bivalent boosters contain messenger RNA (mRNA) of both the COVID-19 virus and the newer Omicron BA.4 & BA.5 variants. The FDA approved them to provide added protection against COVID-19 strains and decrease severe illness and hospitalizations caused by them.
Who can get it?
Everyone ages 5 years and older are recommended to receive one bivalent COVID-19 booster shot after completing their primary vaccination series. Children ages 6 months to 4 years old are now eligible to receive a bivalent COVID-19 booster depending on their primary series received.
- Children who received Moderna COVID-19 primary vaccination series are eligible to receive Moderna updated bivalent COVID-19 booster shot after two months of completing their primary series.
- Pfizer bivalent COVID-19 booster has not been authorized for children who completed their three-dose primary series. However, children who have not completed their primary series are eligible to receive a bivalent dose as the third dose of the primary series.
When should I get it?
At least 2 months after your last booster shot or finishing your primary vaccination series. And at least 3 months after a recent COVID-19 infection.
Do I have to get the same brand I got before?
Individuals ages 6 years and older can mix and match the brands for their primary vaccination series and bivalent boosters.
Can I get it at the same time as the other shots?
It is safe to get flu shots and COVID-19 vaccines and boosters at the same time. However, if you receive the smallpox vaccine, you must wait 4 weeks before you can get the COVID-19 vaccine.
What are the side effects after I get the vaccine?
Side effects are signs that your body is building protection.
You can put a cold cloth on the arm to soothe it, if needed. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any side effects that bother you or do not go away.
- Your arm may be sore, red, or warm to the touch.
- You may experience flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue, headache, chills, muscle pain, and joint pain.
- These symptoms usually go away on their own within a few days.
I have allergies, can I get the vaccine?
Having allergies to pollen, food, pets, and insects does not increase your risk of having a bad reaction from the vaccine. If you have had severe allergic reactions to another vaccine or injectable therapy like hives, swollen lips and face or trouble breathing, talk to your healthcare provider before getting the vaccine.
What if I am pregnant, breastfeeding, or plan to have a child soon?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has strongly recommended COVID-19 vaccination for individuals who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or currently breastfeeding. There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination affects fertility in male or female. Delaying vaccination puts you at risk for severe illness during pregnancy. Studies have found pregnant people are at increased risk of severe illness with COVID-19 infection that requires hospitalization, intensive care unit (ICU) admission, ventilation, and may cause severe illness, even death.
What if I am immunocompromised or take medication lowering my immunity?
The vaccine is not dangerous for people with weak immune systems. However, we do not know how well it will protect them. Experts recommend that immunocompromised people should get vaccinated unless otherwise contraindicated as people with this condition are more likely to get very sick from the virus. Talk to your healthcare provider about any concerns.
Do I need to continue taking COVID-19 precautions after vaccination?
Yes, getting vaccinated protects most people from getting severely sick from COVID-19. Even when you are fully vaccinated, there is still a risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 or spreading it. Until infection rates drop, to protect yourself and others, please continue taking precautions after vaccination.
Will the current vaccines protect me against new COVID-19 variants?
Current vaccines and boosters offer protection you from becoming seriously sick from new COVID-19 variants. Even when you are fully vaccinated and have received current boosters, there is still a risk of becoming infected with COVID-19. Scientists are working to learn more about new COVID-19 variants. Until we know more, we should continue taking precautions.