On August 31, 2022, the US Food and Drug Administration amended the emergency use authorizations of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines. This amendment authorized bivalent formulations of the vaccines for use as a single booster dose. This blog aims to detail how the new COVID-19 booster shots differ from previous formulas, the effectiveness and safety of the boosters, and where to get them.
How are the New COVID-19 Booster Shots Different?
To provide a broader immune response to COVID-19, the updated bivalent COVID-19 boosters include an mRNA component of the original strain as well as an mRNA component in common between the omicron variant BA.4 and BA.5. The mRNA in these vaccines instructs cells in the body to make “spike” proteins to aid in immunity. At the time of this report, the BA.4 and BA.5 lineages of the omicron variant are currently responsible for the most COVID-19 cases in the US.
Are the New COVID-19 Booster Shots Safe?
The new boosters are both extremely effective and safe. To evaluate the effectiveness of the new vaccines, the FDA analyzed the immune response data for 600 individuals 18 and older. These individuals had previously received a two-dose primary series and one booster dose of the monovalent Moderna booster. In the study, the participants received a second booster dose of either the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine or of the new Moderna bivalent COVID-19 vaccine.
After 28 days, the studies showed a significantly increased immune response against the virus in individuals who had received the full series of four vaccinations, including the bivalent strain. An 800-person study of individuals 18 years and older who received a new bivalent booster after receiving 2 previous doses and a prior regular booster. According to that study, participants’ most reported side effects included pain, redness, swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, chills, swelling of the lymph nodes in the same arm of the injection, nausea/vomiting, and fever.
Where Can I Get a Booster Shot?
VIGILINT strongly recommends that families get their bivalent booster for COVID-19. Vaccinations are the best protect against the disease and can help contain the disease in the community. Both bivalent vaccinations are generally available at all CVS and Walgreens stores nationally.