7 things to know about the updated COVID Boosters
Updated COVID-19 booster vaccines are now available in the United States.
The updated bivalent booster vaccines are designed to specifically target COVID’s fast spreading Omicron subvariants. Omicron is accounting for the great majority of infections in the U.S. This means better protection for you, your family, and our entire community.
"While the original COVID-19 vaccines have proven themselves effective at preventing death and severe illness," says Dr. Lakshmi Deepa Yerram, chief medical officer at International Community Health Services (ICHS). "We know from friends, family, and personal experience that breakthrough COVID-19 infections can occur."
As the virus evolves, so should our protection.
1) What does ‘Bivalent’ mean?
It means the vaccine targets two different things.
In the case of the updated Bivalent COVID-19 vaccines, it means half of the vaccine targets the original strain and the other half targets the Omicron subvariants (BA.4 and BA.5) which are predicted to continue circulating this fall and winter.
Bivalent vaccines are commonly used to protect us. For example, did you know that the Cervarix HPV vaccine is also a bivalent vaccine?
2) I thought I was fully vaccinated after getting two shots? What’s the deal?
Like Tetanus vaccines or flu shots, a vaccine’s protection decreases over time.
The original COVID-19 vaccines were effective at protecting us against the original strain of COVID-19. But as the virus has evolved we now need boosters to help prime our immune system to recognize the way the virus looks today.
The updated bivalent booster vaccine targets the Omicron variant, the most common version of COVID today. This means you’ll be better protected.
3) Who should get the updated booster?
It’s recommended that everyone 12 and older get an updated bivalent booster vaccine.
There are two options as of today:
- Everyone 12 years and older is eligible for the updated Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
- Everyone 18 years and older is eligible for the updated Moderna vaccine.
It is safe to mix and match between the COVID-19 vaccine brands. For example if you received Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines for your primary series (first vaccines), you can get the Moderna bivalent booster vaccine.
4) When should I get the updated booster?
Health professionals recommend you get this updated booster as soon as you are eligible.
You must wait at least two months after your last COVID-19 dose. Some of us have had booster doses this year. If it's been two months since your last booster dose you ARE eligible to receive the updated bivalent booster vaccine.
Cases are predicted to rise this fall and winter as we all spend more time indoors. Get your updated COVID-19 booster vaccine as soon as you can.
5) I recently had an COVID-19 infection. What should I know about getting my updated booster vaccine?
Speak with your medical provider to determine the best timing for you.
Health professionals recommend that at a minimum, wait on your COVID-19 vaccination until you have recovered from acute illness and you have met the criteria to leave isolation. In addition, you may want to consider delaying the updated bivalent booster vaccine by three months of your positive test or onset of symptoms.
6) Should I wait between getting an updated booster vaccine and my flu shot?
No, you can safely receive your updated booster vaccine and flu shot at the same time.
With flu season around the corner, it is vitally important to get your flu shot too! It is safe and effective to get a flu shot and updated bivalent booster vaccine at the same visit. This includes adjuvant (high-dose) flu vaccines too.
7) What are the updated booster vaccine side effects going to be like?
Like other vaccines, side effects are normally mild.
The side effects most commonly reported are pain, swelling, or redness at the injection site, headache, fever, and fatigue. Symptoms usually occur one to two days after vaccination and are mostly mild and resolve after a few days.
These side effects are normal signs that your body is building its protection.
ICHS offers updated COVID-19 booster vaccines for individuals 12 and older
The Pfizer updated booster is now available at ICHS for ages 12+. ICHS patients should call (206) 788-3700 to make an appointment with their care provider. Scheduled appointments are only available for ICHS patients.
Non-ICHS patients can walk into ICHS' International District, Holly Park and Shoreline clinics pharmacies Monday-Friday from 9am- 4pm. No appointment needed but supplies are limited. More info on our COVID-19 vaccine page.
COVID-19 vaccines are free of charge, regardless of immigration or health insurance status. Please bring your picture ID and insurance card if you have health insurance.
ICHS will host one-day clinics for members of the community facing barriers to traveling or accessing COVID-19 vaccines. More information will be posted on ICHS’ website.