Six things you should know about the new COVID boosters

 

[5 min read]

In this article: 

  • A Swedish expert answers some key questions about the new COVID-19 vaccine boosters. 

  • The newly formulated bivalent boosters increase immune response to the original coronavirus as well as new strains. 

  • Contact your Swedish primary care provider to schedule your booster. 

 
In late August, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amended the emergency use authorizations of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to authorize new formulations of the current COVID-19 vaccines. The FDA authorized newly formulated vaccines for use as a single booster dose following primary or booster vaccination. In early September, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC’s) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices endorsed the FDA’s recommendations. 
 
We spoke with Donna Jensen, chief nursing officer, Swedish Providence Clinical Network, Puget Sound region, about the new vaccine updates and what we need to know about getting boosters. 
 
 “COVID-19 booster vaccine with the new bivalent formulation is an important step in protecting yourself and those around you, especially those individuals at risk, from getting a COVID infection. We know that over time the immune response generated from the vaccine begins to wane and protecting yourself as we go into the fall when we expect to see another COVID surge will give you a greater chance of remaining immune to the infection,” says Donna.
 
Should I get a COVID-19 booster? 
Yes. CDC data indicates that unvaccinated adults have a much higher likelihood of dying from COVID-19 than those who are vaccinated and have received two or more booster shots. The same demographic with only one booster is still at risk—a lower risk, but a risk nonetheless. Even if you are up to date with all boosters, the CDC is encouraging you get the new bivalent booster to protect you.
 
Why is it called a bivalent vaccine and how is it different from previous boosters? 
These newly formulated vaccines contain antigens of both the alpha, or original SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and the now prevalent omicron subvariant, BA.5. While the previous booster targeted only one strain of the coronavirus, the new boosters target two versions of the virus. These new formulations will help boost the immune response to the original strain of the coronavirus and new strains.  
 
When should I get this new booster? 
The FDA and the CDC recommend updated boosters for those at least two months out from their last shot—whether that was the initial vaccine or a booster. If you have recently had COVID, some experts recommend waiting four to six months after infection because your body will not generate a strong immune response after having the virus. After your booster it takes two weeks for your body to build the full immune response.
 
Should my kids get boosters? 
While children under the age of 12 cannot currently receive the new booster, the FDA is working to make it available to kids under 12, Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, said in Sept. 6 press briefing. Kids between the ages of 12 and 17 years of age can receive the updated Pfizer bivalent booster. For children between the ages of 6 months and 11 years of age, following the CDC guidance on vaccines and boosters is recommended. 
 
What’s the difference between the Pfizer and Moderna boosters? 
Outside of the age specifications for administration, there is no practical difference. Your body’s immune does not recognize any difference in the vaccines.  
 
Where can I get a booster? 
COVID-19 vaccine continues to be available at Swedish Primary Care. You may contact your primary care office and they can schedule you at one of the clinics offering the vaccine.
 
“In addition to a COVID booster, we want to encourage everyone to get a flu shot," says Donna. "We are expecting to see a return to our usual rates of flu this fall/winter season with the reduction in mask wearing and waning immunity due to low rates of flu over the last two years with COVID precautions in place.”
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Learn more and find a provider

If you have concerns about your health or it’s time for a check-up, it’s important to see a primary care provider. Whether you require an in-person visit or want to consult a doctor virtually, you have options.

Swedish Virtual Care connects you face-to-face with a nurse practitioner who can review your symptoms, provide instruction and follow up as needed. If you need to find a doctor, you can use our provider directory.

Join our Patient and Family Advisory Council.

Related resources

Under the weather? Tips to help you figure out if it's the flu or a cold

Flu and COVID-19 vaccine facts: What you need to know

No more excuses! It's time for that wellness checkup

Cold Versus Flu | CDC

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.

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