Omicron COVID-19 Booster Shots Are Now Available: Eligibility Guide
COVID-19 booster shots that target the omicron variant’s BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants are available now for eligible individuals ages 12 and older. BA.5 is now responsible for more than 90% of COVID cases in the country, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control.
An uptick in cases is expected this fall and winter as immunity from earlier shots wears off and colder weather leads to more indoor activities.
Public health administrators and scientists determined the new vaccine will better match circulating strains of COVID and provide broader, longer lasting immunity. While the new vaccines from both Pfizer and Moderna take aim at the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants, they also provide protection against the original coronavirus strain that first emerged in late 2019.
The new shots are known as known as bivalent vaccines because they target two strains of COVID.
Who is eligible?
Pfizer has been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration to give updated shots to people 12 and older. Moderna has been authorized for adults 18 and older. Currently, Ochsner Health is only administering Pfizer bivalent booster vaccines to eligible people 12 and older.
Anyone 12 and older who has been fully vaccinated, no matter the number of boosters they have already received, and COVID infection history, will be eligible, health officials have said. Patients should wait at least two months after their last dose before getting the new bivalent booster.
Those who are unvaccinated will need to complete a primary series with the existing COVID vaccines to become eligible for the updated bivalent formula.
As with the other boosters, people will likely be able to get a bivalent vaccine even if it doesn’t match the ones they received earlier. For example, if you had a Moderna booster, health experts say you can get Pfizer’s bivalent vaccine and vice versa.
No omicron-specific booster will be available for children under 12, at least for now. Children between 6 months and 5 years have been eligible for the earlier vaccine since June of this year. The CDC recommends all children 6 months and older should get all recommended doses of COVID-19 vaccine. A new study from the CDC found kids 5–18 years who are vaccinated with two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are 84% less likely to develop multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C), a severe condition that can affect many organs.
Speak with your doctor if you have questions or concerns about the new vaccines.
Appointments are now open for the COVID-19 bivalent (Omicron) vaccine at Ochsner Health. Please visit myochsner.org or call 844-888-2772 to make your appointment at a convenient location. Patients must be 12 years or older and have waited at least two months after their last COVID-19 vaccine dose or booster.
For more information on COVID-19 vaccines, or to schedule an appointment, please visit Ochsner.org/coronavirus.