September 12, 2022 – New COVID enhancers targeting fast-spreading strains of the virus are being rolled out from Omicron this week, with Center for Disease Control Recommending so-called bivalent mRNA shots for Americans 12 years of age and older.
Here are answers to frequently asked questions about the shots produced by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, based on information provided by the CDC and Keri Althoff, Ph.D., and virologist Andrew Pekos, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Epidemiologists.
Q: Who qualifies for new bivalent reinforcers?
a: The CDC has given the green light for Pfizer/BioNTech promoted shots for Americans age 12 and older and Moderna Booster for those age 18 or older, if they’ve received base shots Serum Series or booster at least two months in advance.
The boosters have been redesigned to protect against the dominant BA.4 and BA.5 virus strains. The Biden administration makes 160 million booster doses available for free through pharmacies, doctor’s offices, clinics and state health departments.
Q: What about children under 12?
a: New boosters are not approved for children under the age of 12. Additional testing and trials should be conducted for safety and efficacy. But officials recommend that children 5 and older receive the initial series of vaccinations and be boosted with a single dose. Children 6 months to less than 5 years old are not yet eligible for boosters.
Pfizer said it hopes to ask the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for 5- to 11-year-old permission in October.
Q: How are the new bivalent boosters different from previous shots?
a: The new shots use the same mRNA technology as Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech’s previous vaccines and boosters but have been upgraded to target newer Omicron strains. shots Using mRNA generated in the laboratory To teach our cells how to produce a specific protein that triggers an immune system response and makes antibodies that help protect us from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID.
The new shot recipe includes a so-called ‘spike protein’ for both the original (ancestral) virus strain and the more transmissible Omicron strains (BA.4, BA.5). Once your body produces these proteins, your body becomes immune system The gear kicks to create a response.
It is also possible—but not yet determined—that the new bivalent enhancers will provide protection against the newer and less common strains known as BA.4.6 and BA.2.75.
Q: Are there any new risks or side effects associated with these boosters?
a: Health experts don’t expect to see anything beyond what has already been observed with previous mRNA vaccines, with the vast majority of recipients experiencing only mild problems such as redness from the shot, soreness, and fatigue.
Q: Do I need one of the new shots if I already had previous boosters or had COVID?
yes. Even if you had COVID in the past year and/or received your previous series of initial vaccinations and boosters, you should still get an Omicron bivalent injection.
Doing so will give you broader immunity against COVID and also help reduce the appearance of other variants. The more Americans with high immunity, the better; It makes it less likely that other variables that can escape from will appear immunity Introduction of Vaccines and COVID infections.
Q: How long should I wait, from the time of my last dose, before getting a new booster?
a: Bivalent reinforcers are most effective when given after a period of time has passed between the last and the new shot. The waiting period of two to three months is minimal, but some evidence suggests that extending it to 4 to 6 months may be a good timing.
To determine when you should get a new booster, check with the Centers for Disease Control Stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccines including boosters website.
Q: What if I had the COVID virus recently?
a: There are no set rules regarding the waiting period after being infected with COVID. But if you’ve had the virus in the past 8 weeks, you may want to wait 8 weeks to pass before receiving the bivalent booster to allow your immune system to get more out of the shot.
Q: If I never get the original vaccines, do I need to get those first?
a: yes. The bivalent vaccine contains a lower dose of mRNA than the vaccines used in the primary vaccine series, which were introduced in late 2020. The bivalent vaccine is permitted to be used as a booster dose and not as a primary vaccine series dose.
Q: Do Omicron boosters completely replace all other boosters?
a: yes. The new booster shots, targeting the original strain and Omicron sub variants, are now the only boosters available for people 12 and older. The Food and Drug Administration no longer allows previous booster doses for people in the approved age groups.
Q: What if I receive an inflexible vaccine made by Novavax or Johnson & Johnson? Should I get an mRNA booster?
a: Mix and match the COVID vaccines, and you’ll be eligible for a bivalent booster 8 weeks after completing your initial series of COVID vaccines – whether it’s 2 doses of mRNA or Novavax, or a single dose of J&J.
Q: How effective are the new boosters?
a: Scientists do not have complete efficacy data of bivalent vaccines yet. But because the new enhancers contain mRNA from Omicron and the original strains, they are believed to provide greater protection against COVID in general.
Data at the cellular level support this, with studies showing that bivalent vaccines increase neutralizing antibodies to BA.4/BA.5 strains. Scientists consider these types of studies as alternatives Clinical trials. But officials will study the effectiveness of the new boosters, and investigate to what degree they reduce hospitalizations and deaths.
Q: How long will booster protection last?
a: Research shows that vaccine efficacy eventually diminishes, which is why we have the boosters. Scientists will be watching to see how long protection from bivalent enhancers lasts through studies of antibody levels as well as assessments of severe COVID diseases over time, throughout the fall and winter.
Q: Is it OK to get a flu shot and a COVID booster at the same time?
a: yes. In fact, it is important to have a file flu vaccine This year because some experts believe we could see overlapping spikes in COVID flu this fall — a phenomenon some have fancifully called a “double pandemic.” Getting the flu and COVID booster vaccines — simultaneously, if possible — is especially important if you’re in a high-risk group.
People who are at risk of serious complications from COVID — such as the elderly, people with weakened immune systems, and those with chronic health conditions — are also particularly vulnerable to severe flu complications.
Q: Does the new booster mean I can stop wearing a mask, social distancing, avoid crowded indoor places, and take other precautions to avoid COVID?
a: no. It’s still a good idea to hide, stay away from others, avoid indoor places with people whose vaccine status is unknown, and take other precautions against COVID.
Although new boosters are on the cutting edge of mind, it’s a good idea to have other tools in your toolbox as well, especially if you’ve been in contact with an older person who is immunocompromised and has a chronic condition that puts them at higher risk of COVID.
Keep in mind: The risk of community infection nationwide remains high today, with about 67,400 new cases and about 320 deaths reported each day in the United States, according to the CDC’s latest reports.