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Five things to know about the new COVID-19 boosters

By now, most of us have heard or read about the many benefits of getting vaccinated against COVID-19. We know they are safe and have been approved for both adults and children over the age of six months. As well, they are effective at protecting people from getting seriously ill, being hospitalized, and even dying.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccination. That includes all primary series doses and boosters for their age group.

Here are five things to know about the COVID-19 vaccine boosters from Victor Caraballo, M.D., vice president of Quality Management at Independence Blue Cross.

  1. There are two types of COVID-19 booster shots: monovalent and bivalent. The new booster shot is bivalent, which means it targets the original strain of the coronavirus as well as the Omicron subvariants (BA.4 and BA.5). The original booster shot, a monovalent, only targeted the original version of the virus.
  2. According to the CDC, people five years and older should get the booster dose(s) recommended for them. There are different recommendations for different age groups.
    • People 12 and older should get the new booster shot. It’s important to note that you can only get the new shot if you have received the primary COVID-19 vaccine series (e.g., two doses of Pfizer, Moderna or Novavax, or a single dose of Johnson & Johnson). Those between the ages of 12 and 17 can only receive the Pfizer version of the new booster shot at this time.
    • People five to 11 years old should only get the original, monovalent booster shot, when eligible. At this time, it is not recommended that this age group get the new bivalent booster.
    • People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised have different recommendations for COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters, and you should discuss these with your provider.
  3. The right time to get a COVID-19 booster depends on two things: When you got your most recent COVID-19 shot (vaccine or booster) and whether you recently tested positive for COVID-19.
    • You should be at least two months out from your last COVID-19 shot (vaccine or booster) before considering the new booster.
    • If you have or are recovering from a COVID-19 infection, the CDC recommends that you first complete your isolation period. The CDC also advises that you may delay the booster by three months from when your symptoms started or, if you had no symptoms, when you received a positive test.
  4. The new shot is now the only available booster for people 12 and older. If you have not yet received a COVID-19 booster, the CDC recommends you get the new booster shot. It provides better protection because it targets the original strain of the coronavirus as well as the Omicron subvariants (BA.4 and BA.5).
  5. There is no recommended waiting period between getting a COVID-19 booster shot and other vaccines. That means you can get a COVID-19 booster and other vaccines, including a flu vaccine, at the same visit. According to the CDC, experience with other vaccines has shown that the way our bodies develop protection and possible side effects after getting vaccinated are generally the same when given alone or with other vaccines.

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