Time to get your Omicron booster shot. Here’s everything you need to know about the 2 vaccines offered and when to get them.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul received a Moderna bivalent amplifier on Wednesday, September 7, 2022.Governor Kathy Hochul

  • New, reformulated COVID-19 boosters from Pfizer and Moderna are on the way.

  • They are designed to fight Omicron, but also include an “ancestral” component of the virus.

  • As long as it’s been at least 2 months since your last COVID-19 shot, it’s a good idea to get in line and get one.

The first updated vaccines for COVID-19 are here.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) signed off on two new vaccines last week — one from Pfizer and one from Moderna. Currently, Pfizer’s is for everyone aged 12 and over, while Moderna is only for adults over 18.

Both new vaccines are designed to fight Omicron’s BA.4 and BA.5 versions, which are currently on the market in the US.

Here’s what you need to know about them.

These may be the last free COVID-19 shots you’ll get

This fall booster campaign is likely the last chance you’ll get to get free COVID-19 shots from the US government.

Reuters reported last week that the Department of Health and Human Services plans to “transition the procurement and distribution of vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 from a federal management system to the commercial market” in 2023.

The downloads are “bivalent” meaning they target 2 versions of the virus

image of modern, pfizer booster vials

Office of the Governor of New York

Half of the mRNA product is targeted against “ancestral” SARS-CoV-2, meaning it’s the same material that was in previous vaccines. The other 50% of the dose is designed to fight BA.4 and BA.5, which are the specific versions of Omicron we’re dealing with right now.

Having a bivalent product means we’ll have good protection if and when the virus mutates again — even if it moves away from the Omicron versions in circulation.

The strategy is similar to how vaccine makers deal with the flu. This year’s flu shot, for example, is quadrivalent, meaning it’s designed to fight four different types of flu.

Moderna’s shot is even bigger than Pfizer’s

The total mRNA volume of these vaccines is exactly the same size as previous booster vaccines:

The Pfizer vaccine contains 30 ug, while the Moderna vaccine contains 50 ug per dose.

If you’ve recently had COVID, wait a few months

In greenlighting these boosters, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said anyone can get one “at least two months” after their last shot for COVID-19.

If you had COVID this summer, you can technically get your souvenir at any time.

However, health officials at the CDC say that “people who have recently had a SARS-CoV-2 infection may consider delaying an initial series dose or booster dose three months.”

Epidemiologist Katelyn Jetelina recommends waiting at least two months after contracting COVID-19, as you would after any previous COVID-19 vaccine.

“We do not I have to wait 3 months after infection,” Jetelina explained in a recent newsletter. “We won’t ‘deplete’ or ‘crush’ our immune systems, but delaying gives us the biggest bang for our vaccines.”

Will you need an annual COVID booster? Experts are divided

President Biden has suggested that COVID-19 vaccines become an annual tradition, just as flu shots are now.

“A COVID-19 vaccine, once a year, every fall,” he said Tuesday in a statement.

Infectious disease experts aren’t so sure. Many hope that the new types of COVID-19 vaccines being developed could be better long-term solutions than the vaccines we have now. Some new vaccines are designed as nasal sprays that you can inhale or patches that you would put on your skin, while other “universal” vaccines could target many different coronaviruses at once.

Symptoms include arm pain and fatigue

The four most common side effects for both bivalents include:

  1. arm pain at the injection site,

  2. fatigue,

  3. headaches,

  4. and myalgia (generalized muscle aches and pains) after administration of the vaccine.

While this side effect data was generated from vaccine trials in people who received bivalent boosters targeting BA.1, this is a version of Omicron that is “slightly different” from BA.4/5, according to Dr. Peter Marks who runs the FDA department responsible for the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. The side effects of the vaccine are expected to be very similar, if not the same, to these new vaccines.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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