FAQ: New COVID Omicron Boosters

Sept. 12, 2022 — New COVID boosters that concentrate on the fast-spreading Omicron strains of the virus are rolling out this week, with the CDC recommending these so-called bivalent mRNA pictures for People 12 and older.

Listed below are solutions to regularly requested questions concerning the pictures produced by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, primarily based on data supplied by the CDC and Keri Althoff, PhD, and virologist Andrew Pekosz, PhD, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg College of Public Well being epidemiologists.

Q: Who’s eligible for the brand new bivalent boosters?

A: The CDC greenlighted the upgraded Pfizer/BioNTech pictures for People 12 and older and the Moderna booster for these 18 and over, if they’ve obtained a main vaccine collection or a booster no less than 2 months earlier than.

The boosters have been redesigned to guard towards the predominant BA.4 and BA.5 strains of the virus. The Biden administration is making 160 million of the booster pictures out there freed from cost by way of pharmacies, physician’s workplaces, clinics, and state well being departments.

Q: What about youngsters below 12?

A: The brand new boosters usually are not authorized for kids below 12. Further testing and trials have to be performed for security and effectiveness. However officers advocate that youngsters 5 and above obtain the first vaccine collection and be boosted with one shot. Youngsters 6 months to below 5 years usually are not but eligible for boosters.

Pfizer mentioned it hopes to ask the FDA for authorization in 5- to 11-year-olds in October.

Q: How do the brand new bivalent boosters differ from earlier pictures?

A: The brand new pictures use the identical mRNA expertise because the prior Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines and boosters however have been upgraded to focus on the newer Omicron strains. The pictures use mRNA created in a lab to show our cells to provide a selected protein that triggers an immune-system response and make antibodies that assist shield us from of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID.

The recipe for the brand new pictures incorporates the so-called “spike protein” of each the unique (ancestral) pressure of the virus and extra extremely transmissible Omicron strains (BA.4, BA.5). As soon as your physique produces these proteins, your immune system kicks into gear to mount a response.

It’s additionally attainable – however but to be decided – that the brand new bivalent boosters will provide safety towards newer however much less widespread strains often known as BA.4.6 and BA.2.75.

Q: Are there any new dangers or unintended effects related to these boosters?

A: Well being specialists don’t anticipate to see something past what has already been famous with prior mRNA vaccines, with the overwhelming majority of recipients experiencing solely delicate points reminiscent of redness from the shot, soreness, and fatigue.

Q: Do I would like one of many new pictures if I’ve already had previous boosters or had COVID?

Sure. Even in the event you’ve been contaminated with COVID prior to now yr and/or obtained the prior collection of main vaccines and boosters, it’s best to get a bivalent Omicron shot.

Doing so provides you with broader immunity towards COVID and in addition assist restrict the emergence of different variants. The extra People with excessive immunity, the higher; it makes it much less probably different variants will emerge that may escape the immunity supplied by vaccines and COVID infections.

Q: How lengthy ought to I wait, from the time of my final shot, earlier than getting a brand new booster?

A: The bivalent boosters are simplest when given after a time frame has handed between your final shot and the brand new one. A 2-to-3-month ready interval is the minimal, however some proof suggests extending it out to 4 to six months may be good timing.

To find out when it’s best to get a brand new booster, take a look at the CDC’s Stay Up to Date with COVID-19 Vaccines Including Boosters web site.

Q: What if I’ve not too long ago had COVID?

A: There are not any particular guidelines a couple of ready interval after COVID an infection. However in case you have been contaminated with the virus within the final 8 weeks, it’s possible you’ll wish to anticipate 8 weeks to move earlier than receiving the bivalent booster to permit your immune system to get larger profit from the shot.

Q: If I by no means obtained the unique vaccines, do I have to get these pictures first?

A: Sure. The bivalent vaccine has a decrease dose of mRNA than the vaccines used within the main collection of vaccines, rolled out in late 2020. The bivalent vaccine is permitted to be used as a booster dose and never a main vaccine collection dose.

Q: Do the Omicron-specific boosters fully substitute the opposite boosters?

A: Sure. The brand new booster pictures, which goal the unique pressure and the Omicron subvariants, are actually the one out there boosters for folks ages 12 and older. The FDA not authorizes the earlier booster doses for folks within the authorized age teams.

Q: What if I obtained a non-mRNA vaccine produced by Novavax or Johnson & Johnson? Ought to I nonetheless get an mRNA booster?

A: You’ll be able to combine and match COVID vaccines, and you’re eligible to get the bivalent booster 8 weeks after finishing the first COVID vaccination collection – whether or not that was two doses of mRNA or Novavax, or one shot of J&J.

Q: How efficient are the brand new boosters?

A: Scientists don’t have full effectiveness information from the bivalent vaccines but. However as a result of the brand new boosters include mRNA from the Omicron and the unique strains, they’re believed to supply larger safety towards COVID total.

Mobile-level information helps this, with research displaying the bivalent vaccines improve neutralizing antibodies to BA.4/BA.5 strains. Scientists regard these sorts of research as surrogate stand-ins for clinical trials. However officers can be finding out the effectiveness of the brand new boosters, inspecting to what diploma they scale back hospitalizations and deaths.

Q: How lengthy will the boosters’ safety final?

A: Analysis reveals that vaccine effectiveness finally wanes, which is why we’ve the boosters. Scientists can be monitoring to see how lengthy the safety lasts from the bivalent boosters by way of research of antibody ranges in addition to assessments of extreme COVID diseases over time, all through the autumn and winter.

Q: Is it OK to get a flu shot and a COVID booster on the similar time?

A: Sure. In truth, it’s necessary to get a flu shot this yr as a result of some specialists consider we might see overlapping COVID-influenza surges this fall – a phenomenon some have fancifully referred to as a “twindemic.” Getting a flu shot and COVID booster — concurrently, if attainable – is especially necessary in the event you’re in a high-risk group.

People who find themselves inclined to extreme problems from COVID — reminiscent of older folks, folks with weakened immune programs, and people will power well being circumstances — are additionally particularly weak to extreme influenza problems.

Q: Will a brand new booster imply I can cease carrying a masks, social distancing, avoiding crowded indoor areas, and taking different precautions to keep away from COVID?

A: No. It’s nonetheless a good suggestion to masks up, hold your distance from others, keep away from indoor areas with folks whose vaccine standing is unknown, and take different precautions towards COVID.

Though the brand new boosters are entrance of thoughts, it’s a good suggestion to additionally use different instruments within the toolbox, as nicely, significantly in case you have contact with somebody who’s older, immune-suppressed, has a power situation that places them at larger threat from COVID.

Be mindful: The neighborhood threat of an infection nationwide continues to be excessive right this moment, with about 67,400 new instances and almost 320 deaths reported every day within the U.S., in keeping with the newest CDC stories.

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