BURLINGTON — State health officials announced Tuesday that Vermonters will be able to receive the newly approved COVID-19 vaccine booster shots starting Wednesday. The updated boosters are designed to be a match for the BA.5 omicron variant currently affecting most people.
Last week, the CDC recommended use of the new vaccine booster doses. That action came after authorization for use by the FDA, and a unanimous recommendation by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said these boosters come at just the right time.
“As the weather cools, we start spending more time inside — and that is when we see increases in cases of respiratory viruses like colds and flu, and now COVID-19,” said Levine. “This fast-evolving virus continues to demand our attention, and I am pleased we now have an updated vaccine that targets the variants we see circulating in Vermont.”
There are two types of the new boosters, which are known as bivalent — meaning they cover both the original SARS-CoV2 virus and the more recent omicron (BA.5) variant. The Pfizer booster is for people ages 12 and older, while Moderna’s is authorized for those 18 years of age and older.
Eligible individuals may choose either the Pfizer or Moderna bivalent booster, regardless of which primary series vaccine or original booster dose they received. In order to receive either of the new boosters, you must have completed your primary vaccination series (two doses of Pfizer or Moderna, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson). Individuals who have recently received Novavax are not yet eligible for any booster at this time.
The booster vaccine will be available starting Wednesday at limited walk-in only clinics listed on the Health Department website. For more information, visit healthvermont.gov/MyVaccine. Flu shots will also be available at many of the clinics, except for the high dose vaccine for older individuals. People can go to a pharmacy or contact their provider for the high dose flu vaccine.
As the new booster shot becomes more widely available over the next few weeks, Vermonters will be able to get it from their provider, a pharmacy, or wherever they would normally get vaccinated.
The Health Department preordered approximately 17,000 doses of the bivalent boosters, some of which have already been received, and thousands more doses will be available for ordering starting later this week. Vermont health care providers will soon begin to receive their vaccine orders, and doses are being sent directly to pharmacies and Federally Qualified Health Centers.
Levine said that while the vaccines don’t necessarily prevent people from getting the virus, it will reduce the likelihood of serious illness.
“Getting this new booster will help build protection for when you do encounter the virus. This can reduce cases of serious illness and hospitalizations — and, most important, help prevent additional deaths and loss from this terrible pandemic.”
For information about the COVID-19 vaccine, boosters and where to get your vaccination, visit healthvermont.gov/MyVaccine.
If you do not have a health care provider, call 2-1-1 for referral to services and vaccination opportunities.