FDA approves bivariant COVID-19 booster, Delaware to administer 17,000 upon CDC approval
The Food and Drug administration authorized new COVID boosters this week that target the original strain and two Omicron variants, and shots could be in the arms of Delawareans by next week.
Delaware’s Division of Public Health pre-ordered about 17,000 doses that could ship as early as Friday. The CDC advisory committee met Thursday and Friday and is expected to approve the boosters, so its use could begin next week.
The BA.4 and BA.5 variants most people are catching now are two of the most contagious, but don’t appear to lead to outcomes as serious as previous strains.
Those who are most at risk, like the elderly and immunocompromised individuals are encouraged to get it sooner, rather than later, as availability unrestricted.
Interim Director for the Division of Public Health Rick Hong says the 17,000 doses preordered should be enough to handle the first round of interest in the booster, but throughout the pandemic they’ve run out of supply quicker than anticipated and may have to pivot.
He also notes the previous booster formula will be decommissioned for those over the age of 12.
“There's certain clinics that might be focused on certain populations more than others but right now it's an open enrollment, open registration process at this point," Hong said. "Given our trends of vaccines and booster, we should be able to handle at least the first round of interest. As we continue, if we notice that we are running out of supply more quickly than we anticipated then we're going to have to pivot.”
With more tools in the toolbox than ever before, Hong hopes to not see a spike in cases this winter. He adds flu shots are highly recommended as well, since flu seasons the last few years have been unusual in number and timing.
People are eligible for the bivalent booster two months after their last primary or booster dose of any vaccine. Those who have not yet received their first two shots in a primary series will receive the original COVID-19 vaccine formula.
“So we are very limited to one type of vaccine," Hong said. "So you have the Pfizer bivalent or the Moderna bivalent as the only options for boosters. In terms of primary series, you can’t use the bivalent versions. That you will be relying on the previous formulation or the monovalent versions of the vaccines for your primary series.”
The Pfizer bivalent booster is currently authorized for ages 12 and older while Moderna’s is authorized for 18 and older, but either booster can be chosen regardless of which vaccines they have received previously.
Authorization for ages 12 and under is expected soon.