Health officials receive new bivalent COVID boosters

Boosters available in Tennessee Valley, just arrived in North Georgia

HIXSON, Tenn. (WDEF) — The new bivalent Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines are now available to residents in the Tennessee Valley and North Georgia.

As always, local officials are encouraging residents to receive them, especially headed into fall.

The updated booster shots can now target newer strands of the coronavirus, such as the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants.

Medical officials are encouraging residents to stay on top of their vaccines, boosters and shots with the cold and flu season fast approaching.

Access Family Pharmacist Jake Standefer says while flu shots have been “tweaked” to match this year’s strains, the new COVID boosters, in particular, now provide further defense against the coronavirus.

“These vaccines do have the original strain, as well as the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron variant in it to protect against that,” Standefer said. “That’s the current variant circulating, so I’d recommend getting that booster and getting some extra protection.”

Infectious Disease Director Ashley Deverell says health departments in the North Georgia Health District just received their first shipment of the bivalent Moderna and Pfizer boosters.

She, like Standefer, says the new booster does provide extra protection against more recent strains, but a base vaccine is still needed first.

“If you’ve never had a primary COVID-19 vaccination series, you would still get the traditional COVID vaccine,” Deverell said. “This is designed to kind of accentuate what you already have. This is a booster for those who have already completed those initial series and will give you more protection across what’s circulating today.”

Both Standefer and Deverell additionally want residents to be aware that each new booster also comes with a different approved age range.

“Moderna is just 18 and up at this time, even though the FDA, the CDC and the Moderna company is working on authorizing that in younger children,” Standefer said. “But right now it’s just 18 and up. Pfizer’s 12 and up. It’s the same timeline as far as two months from the last booster if you’ve been boosted or two months from the primary series if you haven’t.”

Standefer says at Access Family Pharmacy in Hixson, walk-ins are welcome and no appointment is needed to get the shot.

He also says the booster is essentially “free for everybody.”

Deverell also says the booster is available at “no cost,” although administration fees will be billed to your insurance carrier.

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