How the new COVID booster protects people, when it will be available

This comes as Jefferson County remains in the high-risk red zone, based on new cases and hospitalizations.
Published: Sep. 2, 2022 at 4:00 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 4, 2022 at 11:33 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A new COVID booster is coming our way. The bivalent-approved booster means it protects people from the most contagious omicron strains: BA.4 and BA.5.

On Thursday, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed updated COVID-19 boosters.

This comes as Jefferson County remains in the high-risk red zone, based on new cases and hospitalizations.

Dr. Kris Bryant, a pediatric infectious disease specialist with Norton Children’s Hospital and University of Louisville Health, said health officials are preparing for possible fall and winter upticks.

”There is a lot of concern that we will have an increase in COVID-19 cases in the winter,” Bryant said. “Just as we have surges of other respiratory viruses.”

Bryant said the biggest question people are asking is: “Do I really need this?”

”'I’ve had my prior shots, I’ve had my other boosters, is it still important?’” Bryant said. “And yes, because this booster offers different protection.”

Bryant said a person is eligible for the new booster if it’s been at least two months since they last completed your primary series, or two months since your last booster.

She added if a person’s been recently been infected with COVID, they should wait three months until their antibodies wane.

Anyone over age 12 can get Pfizer and BioNTech’s shot. Moderna’s vaccine is for those 18 and older.

Bryant said the recommendations for children under 12 remain the same.

”For kids 5 to 11, who received Pfizer, are eligible for a (monovalent) booster,” Bryant said. “Those in that age group who get Moderna have not been recommended to receive a booster at this point.”

Bryant said symptoms for the new booster mirror previous shots. The most common symptom is a sore arm, and people can also get flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue and headache.

She added a person can get their flu shot and bivalent booster at the same time.

You can expect get the booster in your doctor’s office, local pharmacies, and vaccine clinics.

Some places will start giving shots in arms as soon as after the Labor Day holiday.

CVS and Walgreens both said updated boosters are being sent as the doses are made available, with appointments to follow soon after that.

Norton said they expect to be able to start giving out the shot at their vaccine clinics in early October.