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Questions about the new COVID-19 booster shots? We’ve got answers.

Updated COVID-19 booster shots are on their way! The FDA authorized new and improved booster shots from Moderna and Pfizer for emergency use. CDC recommended the boosters as well. Further review by Western States Scientific Review Group and Washington State Department of Health should be complete early next week. Doses should be available soon.

Got questions? We’ve got answers.

What’s different about the updated boosters?

COVID-19 vaccines already provided strong protection against hospitalization and death. This “bivalent” vaccine offers more protection because it targets both the original COVID-19 strain AND the currently circulating BA.4 and BA.5 omicron variants. These vaccines are more like the annual flu vaccines that target different flu strains.

Who should get these booster doses?

Anyone 12 or older who got their initial series of vaccinations or latest booster dose at least 2 months ago.

The FDA authorized the: 

  • Moderna bivalent booster for everyone 18 and older at least 2 months after primary vaccination or most recent booster.
  • Pfizer bivalent booster for everyone 12 and older at least 2 months after primary vaccination or most recent booster. 

Full authorization is not yet final. Eligibility could change.

I was scheduled to get a booster. Should I wait?

YES! You may have to wait a little longer. But this booster will provide better protection.

When can I get one?

The Western States Scientific Review Group and Washington State Department of Health will need to approve the new boosters before we will be able to give them locally.

That could happen as soon as next week, but we don’t know for sure. Some age groups or immunocompromised people may be given priority for the short term. Check our social media or website for updates.

Will there be enough for everyone?

Eventually, yes. We expect Pierce County to get 9,000 doses of Pfizer and 3,000 doses of Moderna to start. We’ll work quickly to get those to providers and in our vaccine clinics as soon as possible.

I haven’t been vaccinated yet. Will I get this vaccine for my initial doses?

No. These doses are not for primary-series vaccination. They are boosters for people who got their primary-series vaccinations or latest booster dose at least 2 months ago.

And if you haven’t been vaccinated yet, you should. Find your dose at tpchd.org/vaxtothefuture.

Last week, we updated information on our vaccine dashboard. During the peak six months of the omicron wave, compared to those who completed their initial vaccine series, unvaccinated people in Pierce County were:

  • 6 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19.
  • 7 times more likely to die from COVID-19.

What about booster shots for kids under 12?

Everyone 5-11 years old can still receive the current Pfizer and Moderna boosters 5 months after their primary series of vaccine.