COVID-19 2 minute read

5 Questions About the Updated Bivalent Booster

Dr. Thomas McGinn, EVP, Physician Enterprise, answers five common questions about the updated bivalent booster vaccine to protect against COVID-19.
5 Questions About the Updated Bivalent Booster

The FDA has authorized an updated, bivalent, booster vaccine to better protect against COVID-19 and the Omicron variant. Here are 5 common questions we’re being asked about this new vaccine:

1. Why is this booster better than the previous booster?
This updated booster is the most effective vaccine we have to protect against the Omicron variant. The updated boosters are “bivalent,” meaning that they were developed using genetic material (mRNA) from the original strain as well as the BA.4 and BA.5 strain.  BA.5 makes up a majority of all current circulating COVID-19 strains. According to the FDA, these updated boosters provide a higher level of protection than previous boosters and this is now the only booster vaccine authorized for people over age 12. 

2. Who should get this updated booster?
Updated bivalent booster vaccines from both Moderna and Pfizer were authorized by the FDA for use after you receive the primary COVID-19 vaccine series. The Moderna booster is authorized for ages 18 and older, and the Pfizer booster is authorized for ages 12 and older. Information on vaccine eligibility is available on the CDC website, or ask your provider. 

3. Can I get this booster and the flu shot at the same time?
Yes, it is safe and convenient to get both at the same time. But for comfort, I’d recommend getting them in different arms.

4. Will this booster still work if the virus mutates again and there’s a new variant?
We don’t yet know how effective this updated booster might be against a future unknown variant of COVID-19. We do know that being vaccinated against COVID-19 with a primary series and any booster offers much more protection than not being vaccinated. 

5. Do we really only need one booster per year?
COVID is still with us and most likely will be for a while. It’s important to stay up-to-date on all of your COVID-19 vaccines – and all vaccines. While it’s still early to tell how long this new booster will last, we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to move toward one COVID vaccine per year. 

Bottom Line: The updated bivalent booster is our best protection against COVID-19.