Are you up-to-date on what the latest advice is on getting a COVID-19 vaccine or booster? If you’re not, you are not alone.
Public awareness of a new booster is “modest,” according to the results of a non-profit organization’s survey called the KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor, published September 30th. Their survey found that fully half of the public knows “little or nothing” about the new booster shots that target both the omicron and original strains. 
Here is some information about the new booster:
- The FDA authorized using the new Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech Bivalent COVID-19 Vaccines for use as a booster dose on August 31st, 2022. 
- What is a bivalent vaccine? A bivalent vaccine stimulates an immune response against two different antigens. An antigen is any substance in the body that provokes an immune response against that substance. In this case, the updated booster targets two versions of the COVID-19 virus, the original version and the newer omicron variant. [3,4]
- The two components of the updated booster are: 
- An mRNA component of the original strain. This provides an immune response that is broadly protective against COVID-19.
- An mRNA component in common between the omicron variant BA.4 and BA.5 lineages to provide better protection against COVID-19 caused by the omicron variant.
- The booster is important because it targets two strains of the omicron variant called BA.4 and BA.5. The FDA says BA.4 and BA.5 are “currently causing most cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and are predicted to circulate this fall and winter.” 
- Where is the latest information? The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) maintains a web page called Stay Up to Date with COVID-19 Vaccines Including Boosters. That page is updated as needed. 
Some people are concerned about how vaccines containing mRNA work. Here is a four-minute video explaining how mRNA vaccines work and why it is a relatively quick process to create new vaccines as new strains emerge. 
Some people also have concerns about how thoroughly the vaccines are tested. In an article from Yale Medicine on the omicron booster, Scott Roberts, MD, a Yale Medicine infectious diseases physician, says, “[t]here have been human trials for the [previous] Omicron BA.1 vaccine with no safety concerns.” He adds, “We have no reason to believe that these variant vaccines would be any different. They are just changing the vaccine a little bit so that it better matches the strains that are circulating, which is exactly what is done with the influenza vaccine.” 
As of October 14, 2022, this is what the CDC says you need to know: 
- Updated (bivalent) boosters became available for people ages 12 and older over Labor Day weekend.
- CDC recommends everyone stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines for their age group:
- Getting a COVID-19 vaccine after you recover from COVID-19 infection provides added protection against COVID-19.
- If you recently had COVID-19, you may consider delaying your next vaccine dose (primary dose or booster) by 3 months from when your symptoms started or, if you had no symptoms, when you first received a positive test.
- People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised have different recommendations for COVID-19 vaccines. [Note: The CDC still recommends that you stay up-to-date on boosters, including this one.]
- COVID-19 vaccine and booster recommendations may be updated as CDC continues to monitor the latest COVID-19 data.
Better at Protecting Nursing Home Residents
The CDC also studied a large group of nursing home residents to see how they respond to the new booster. As of September 30th, the CDC says their data shows that the booster is 90% against death alone compared with having only a single booster dose. Their 60-day data also shows it is 74% effective against severe COVID-19–related outcomes (including hospitalization or death). 
Bottom Line: The updated booster protects you from the version of COVID-19 that is currently circulating. The CDC says that immunocompromised people are “…are at increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness or death,” and should stay current on boosters. The booster is very effective at protecting nursing home residents. 
Please get the new booster before winter sets in.
 How mRNA vaccines work – Simply Explained [Note: There is an advertisement before the video. Medivizor is not associated with the advertiser.]
 Yale Medicine: The Omicron Booster: Your Questions Answered