The Department of Health announced that vaccine providers across the state are prepared to begin administering updated COVID-19 booster vaccines as soon as they receive them.
The vaccines, which provide additional protection against the original coronavirus and Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5, were recently approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) after receiving emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.
The new Pfizer vaccine is available to individuals 12 years of age and older, while the new Moderna booster shot is available to people 18 years of age and older.
“The updated COVID-19 booster shots will help restore protection that may have waned since previous vaccinations and provide added protection against the Omicron variant, including the highly transmissible BA.4 and BA.5 strains,” Acting Health Secretary and Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson said.
“Vaccine providers across Pennsylvania have already requested the updated vaccines, which will begin arriving in Pennsylvania as early as today and continue after Labor Day. If you are eligible, please reach out to your local vaccine provider to schedule an appointment.”
The CDC specifies that people must have already received their primary vaccination series (two doses of Pfizer or Moderna, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson) to be eligible for the new updated booster shot. Individuals are also required to wait at least two months since completing their primary series or a booster shot before being eligible to receive the updated booster vaccine.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines target both the original SARS CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 and the Omicron variant. Specifically, one part of the vaccine targets the spike protein of the original strain of the virus, while the second part targets another form of the spike protein found in BA.4 and BA.5 variants.
“As we continue to live with COVID-19, we must stay vigilant to protect ourselves, our families and our communities from the harmful effects of the virus,” Johnson added. “The best way to do that is to stay up to date with your vaccine regimen, including receiving the updated booster shot, when eligible to do so.”
The department notes that the CDC has advised people 12 and older who have already scheduled appointments for the original booster vaccine to reschedule the appointment and ask for the updated shot. The original vaccines are no longer authorized for use as boosters for people 12 years of age and older. Those vaccines, however, are still to be used for those beginning or finishing the primary series.