FAQ: New Omicron COVID Boosters

September 12, 2022 — New COVID boosters that focus on the fast-spreading Omicron strains of the virus are rolling out this week, with the CDC recommending these so-called bivalent mRNA pictures for Individuals 12 and older.

Listed below are solutions to often requested questions in regards to the pictures produced by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, based mostly on data supplied by the CDC and Keri Althoff, PhD, and virologist Andrew Pekosz, PhD, epidemiologists on the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg College of Public Well being.

Q: Who can profit from the brand new twin goal boosters?

A: The CDC has given the inexperienced gentle to Pfizer/BioNTech enhanced injections for Individuals 12 and older and the Moderna booster for 18 and older, in the event that they acquired a main vaccine sequence or a booster no less than 2 months earlier than.

Boosters have been redesigned to guard towards the predominant BA.4 and BA.5 strains of the virus. The Biden administration is making 160 million reminders out there without cost at pharmacies, medical doctors’ workplaces, clinics and state well being departments.

Q: What about kids below 12?

A: The brand new boosters are usually not permitted for youngsters below 12 years outdated. Extra assessments and trials must be carried out for security and effectiveness. However officers advocate that kids 5 and older obtain the first vaccine sequence and be boosted unexpectedly. Kids 6 months to lower than 5 years outdated are usually not but eligible for boosters.

Pfizer stated it hopes to hunt FDA clearance for youngsters ages 5 to 11 in October.

Q: How do the brand new twin goal boosters differ from earlier plans?

A: The brand new vaccines use the identical mRNA know-how as earlier Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines and boosters, however have been upgraded to focus on new Omicron strains. Pictures use mRNA created within the lab train our cells to provide a selected protein that triggers an immune system response and to make antibodies that assist defend us from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID.

The recipe for the brand new vaccines incorporates the so-called “spike protein” from the unique (ancestral) pressure of the virus and the extra extremely transmissible Omicron strains (BA.4, BA.5). As soon as your physique produces these proteins, your immune system begins to mount a response.

It is also doable – however but to be decided – that the brand new bivalent boosters supply safety towards the newer however much less frequent strains often known as BA.4.6 and BA.2.75.

Q: Are there any new dangers or uncomfortable side effects related to these boosters?

A: Well being specialists don’t count on to see something past what has already been famous with earlier mRNA vaccines, with the overwhelming majority of recipients experiencing solely delicate points reminiscent of redness on account of injection, ache and fatigue.

Q: Do I would like one of many new vaccines if I’ve had earlier boosters or had COVID?

Sure. Even if in case you have been contaminated with COVID throughout the previous yr and/or acquired the earlier spherical of main and booster vaccines, it’s best to obtain a bivalent injection of Omicron.

This offers you broader immunity to COVID and in addition assist restrict the emergence of different variants. The extra Individuals with excessive immunity, the higher; this makes the emergence of different variants which will escape the immunity supplied by vaccines and COVID infections.

Q: How lengthy do I’ve to attend from the time of my final injection earlier than I get a brand new reminder?

A: Bivalent boosters are handiest when administered after a while has elapsed between your final hit and the brand new one. A 2-3 month ready interval is the minimal, however some proof means that extending it to 4-6 months could be a very good time.

To find out when it’s best to get a brand new booster, seek the advice of the CDC Keep updated with COVID-19 vaccines, together with reminders web site.

Q: What if I just lately had COVID?

A: There are not any particular guidelines concerning a ready interval after a COVID an infection. However if in case you have been contaminated with the virus throughout the previous 8 weeks, it’s possible you’ll wish to wait 8 weeks earlier than receiving the bivalent booster to permit your immune system to get extra profit from the injection.

Q: If I by no means acquired the unique vaccines, do I must get vaccinated first?

A: Sure. The bivalent vaccine has a decrease mRNA dose than the vaccines used within the main vaccine sequence, rolled out in late 2020. The bivalent vaccine is licensed to be used as a booster dose and never as a main vaccine sequence dose.

Q: Do Omicron-specific boosters totally exchange different boosters?

A: Sure. The brand new boosters, which goal the unique pressure and subvariants of Omicron, are actually the one boosters out there for individuals aged 12 and over. The FDA now not permits earlier booster doses for individuals within the permitted age teams.

Q: What if I acquired a non-mRNA vaccine produced by Novavax or Johnson & Johnson? Ought to I at all times get an mRNA booster?

A: You may combine and match COVID vaccines, and also you’re eligible to get the bivalent booster 8 weeks after finishing the first COVID vaccination sequence – whether or not it is two doses of mRNA or Novavax, or one injection of J&J.

Q: How efficient are the brand new boosters?

A: Scientists don’t but have complete knowledge on the effectiveness of bivalent vaccines. However because the new boosters comprise mRNA from each the Omicron and the unique strains, they’re thought to supply higher safety towards COVID total.

Knowledge on the mobile stage assist this, with research displaying that bivalent vaccines improve neutralizing antibodies towards BA.4/BA.5 strains. Scientists see a lot of these research as surrogates medical assessments. However officers will examine the effectiveness of the brand new reminders, analyzing how effectively they cut back hospitalizations and deaths.

Q: How lengthy will booster safety final?

A: Analysis exhibits that the effectiveness of the vaccine finally wanes, which is why we’ve the remembers. Scientists will monitor to see how lengthy safety from bivalent boosters lasts via research of antibody ranges in addition to assessments of extreme COVID diseases over time all through the autumn and winter. ‘winter.

Q: Is it okay to get a flu shot and obtain a COVID booster on the identical time?

A: Sure. In actual fact, you will need to get a vaccine towards influenza this yr as a result of some specialists suppose we may see overlapping COVID-flu outbreaks this fall — a phenomenon some have fancifully known as a “double epidemic.” Getting a flu shot and a COVID booster — concurrently, if doable — is very essential for those who’re in a high-risk group.

Individuals prone to severe problems from COVID — such because the aged, individuals with weakened immune methods, and people with continual well being situations — are additionally notably weak to severe problems from the flu.

Q: Does a brand new booster imply I can cease sporting a masks, social distancing, avoiding crowded indoor areas, and taking different precautions to keep away from COVID?

A: No. It is at all times a good suggestion to masks up, maintain your distance from others, keep away from indoor areas with individuals whose vaccination standing is unknown, and take different COVID precautions.

Whereas the brand new boosters are in thoughts, it is a good suggestion to make use of different instruments within the toolkit as effectively, particularly for those who’re coping with an older, immunocompromised particular person with a continual sickness that places them at larger danger. of COVID.

Bear in mind: The neighborhood danger of an infection nationwide remains to be excessive at the moment, with roughly 67,400 new circumstances and almost 320 deaths reported every day in the US, in line with the newest CDC stories.