The new COVID vaccines designed to specifically target the omicron variant and its highly contagious subvariants come with plenty of questions, including some from those wondering if they can still get the updated booster even if they already had a booster vaccine?
The answer is yes, as long as your last booster dose was at least two months ago.
Individuals 18 and older are eligible to receive either Pfizer’s or Moderna’s updated COVID booster shot at least two months after they've received their last booster dose or after they've completed their primary vaccine series, U.S. health officials said.
While those younger than 18 years old are eligible for the new COVID booster, they aren't eligible for the Moderna dose. Only Pfizer booster doses can be administered to those aged 12 through 17.
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For those 12 and older who have not received a booster shot before, the updated "bivalent" booster is now the only option.
So which booster shot should you get if you have a choice?
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend mixing products for your primary series doses, boosters can be mixed.
Here's the CDC's guidance on mixing and matching for boosters, based on which shots you have already received.
- People ages 18 years and older may get a different product for a booster than they got for their primary series, as long as it’s Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.
- Teens ages 12-17 years may get a different product for a booster than they got for their primary series, as long as it’s Pfizer-BioNTech.
- Children ages 5 through 11 years who got a Pfizer-BioNTech primary series must also get Pfizer-BioNTech for a booster.
- People ages 12 years and older may only get the updated (bivalent) mRNA (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) booster. They can no longer get an original (monovalent) mRNA booster.
- Novavax is not authorized for use as a booster dose at this time.
So where can you get them?
Chicago-area pharmacies have already started appointments for updated booster shots, many of which are ramping up this week.
CVS announced Friday, one day after the CDC issued its recommendation for the new vaccine, that some locations were already offering up doses of both Moderna and Pfizer's revamped booster shots. Appointments were opened up and several continue to be available for this week.
Walgreens locations are also now booking appointments for the newly approved COVID booster shots that specifically target the highly contagious BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants, the pharmacy said in a release Friday.
“This season, we encourage everyone to stay protected by getting vaccinated with this more targeted updated COVID-19 booster in addition to receiving their flu shot or other routine immunizations in a single visit," Dr. Anita Patel, vice president of Walgreens' Pharmacy Services Development, said in the release.
According to a Friday announcement from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state expects to receive 580,000 doses of the new booster. And that's in addition to the 150,000 doses Chicago is primed to receive, IDPH said.
Illinois health officials also urged people Friday to begin getting their doses this week.
“Once the updated booster shots become available next week, I urge everyone in Illinois who is eligible to take advantage of the opportunity to get fully protected before we enter the fall season,” IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra said in statement Friday. “These new bivalent vaccines are designed to offer extra protection against the omicron variants which are now the dominant strain of the virus. Getting up to date now is especially important for those who are at risk of serious outcomes, as the updated vaccines offer protection from hospitalization and even death.”