U.S. authorizes updated COVID-19 booster shot for kids ages 5 - 11. Here’s what you need to know.
Now that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved COVID-19 bivalent booster shots for anyone at least five years old, the race is on to protect school-aged children from the harmful, long-term side effects of COVID-19 before the next case surge. In Illinois, 25 percent of the population have not completed their COVID-19 vaccination. This hesitancy creates opportunity for new variants to take root and impair whole communities beyond the five-day quarantine period. For schools full of young immune systems, the danger is greater as children pass germs at an alarmingly high rate. Vaccination lowers the risk of outbreaks in the classroom, which keeps everyone in-school and taking in the same lessons as their peers. The single-dose “updated boosters” include weakened parts of the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, which are responsible for most COVID-19 infections in the United States. These boosters should be administered instead of the mRNA booster doses approved for use by the FDA before August 2022. Boosters may be administered at least two months after the patient completes their primary series or most recent booster. The booster is the latest development in a long-line of efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. In Illinois, Community Health Workers are on the ground providing reliable information about the virus and its vaccines. Although the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recommended vaccination for everyone, nearly 30 percent of Illinoisans have yet to roll up their sleeve. In light of the new booster’s availability, the Illinois Public Health Association and Illinois Primary Health Care Association have updated fact sheets about COVID-19 vaccination eligibility and scheduling. We hope these assets can be shared as they are in public spaces and in workplaces everywhere at no cost.
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Community Health Workers throughout Illinois are engaging anyone who has not yet completed their COVID-19 vaccine schedule. Here are answers to some of the more frequently asked questions they are fielding about the latest COVID-19 vaccine recommendations:
Who is eligible to receive an updated booster?
Anyone age 5 years and older who have completed a primary series of shots made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna is eligible to receive a COVID-19 bivalent booster.
When should I schedule to receive a bivalent booster?
A person who has completed the mRNA primary vaccine series or has received a booster more than two months (eight weeks) prior may schedule a bivalent booster appointment. is possible to receive other inoculations, such as the seasonal flu vaccine, at the same time as a COVID-19 booster.
Do I need to get a booster shot made by the same company that made my primary series?
“Mixing and matching” is allowed among the mRNA vaccines – those produced by Moderna and Pfizer – BioNTech. The important thing to remember is that inoculations made by Johnson & Johnson and Novavax have their own boosters. The new bivalent booster is made for anyone needing to stay current with Moderna and Pfizer.
Where are the new bivalent booster shots available?
In Illinois, public health departments should have the new boosters available. Commercial pharmacies and some community health centers are also likely to have doses on-hand. The best way to find a shot and make an appointment is through vaccines.gov, an app maintained by the Federal government that lists places nearby with COVID-19 vaccine.
Is the bivalent booster safe?
Yes. These boosters have been subjected to testing and standards established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers at Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have also conducted their own studies and submitted their data to the government before the shot’s use was approved.
Are there any side effects?
The most common side effect of COVID-19 vaccination is soreness around the shot. Fatigue and low-grade fevers have also been reported, but these effects are temporary side effects that should subside within 24 – 36 hours. Reporting symptoms to the CDC is one of the ways researchers have better understood the COVID-19 vaccine’s effect. Through the v-safe app, CDC staff are also able to notify users if they need to seek medical attention.