University Health will soon be offering the vaccine that provides a new layer of protection against Omicron.
The Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants have been largely responsible for a summer surge of COVID-19 infections. The FDA authorized the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent vaccines for use Aug. 31, and the CDC announced their recommendation the following day.
Starting Tuesday, Sept. 13, University Health pharmacies will be offering the Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent vaccine for individuals 12 years of age and older. Adults and children over 12 years who have not been previously vaccinated will still be offered the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech monovalent vaccines. No appointment or advance registration is needed. Go to WeCanDoItSA.com for a list of pharmacy locations, hours of operation and vaccine availability.
“The bivalent booster is a new means of protection from serious illness resulting from the COVID-19 virus,” said Dr. Jason Bowling, director of hospital epidemiology for University Health and professor at UT Health San Antonio. “The bivalent vaccine is unique because it is made from two messenger RNA (mRNA) spike protein components – those from the original strain and components from the Omicron strain responsible for the BA.4 and BA.5 variants.”
No new side effects were reported with the new bivalent vaccines. The most commonly reported side effects were similar to the original doses, and usually resolve quickly.
University Health will continue to offer the Novavax vaccine, developed with traditional vaccine technology, for those who do not wish to take the mRNA vaccines. We will also continue offering the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 6 months and before their 5th birthday, and for children ages 5 to 12 years, at the Robert B. Green campus.
Dr. Bowling recommends all individuals obtain the COVID-19 vaccine and booster doses as soon as they are eligible. The vaccines have proven to minimize the duration and severity of the virus, including reducing the risk of hospitalization and death. Vaccines and booster doses have been shown to be the best ways to protect ourselves and others in the fight against COVID-19.