COVID-19 Booster Immunization With Bivalent Vaccines

William Schaffner, MD; C. Buddy Creech, MD, MPH


October 17, 2022

As the COVID-19 pandemic approaches its third anniversary in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is encouraging everyone who is eligible to receive booster immunization from one of the newly approved vaccines.

The updated vaccines are bivalent, meaning they contain messenger RNA components of the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and the BA.5 and BA.6 lineages of the Omicron variant. At present, these lineages are the dominant strains of the virus, responsible for most of the current cases of COVID-19. Trial data reviewed by the US Food and Drug Administration show that these vaccines offer more robust protection against the Omicron variant vs earlier vaccines.

In this panel ReCAP, Drs William Schaffner and Buddy Creech, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, provide advice for talking with patients about the importance of booster immunization this fall. A recent survey undertaken by the CDC and University of Iowa/RAND reports that 72% of Americans say they "probably" or "definitely" will receive the booster shot, but vaccine uptake has been declining in every age group since the introduction of the primary series in early 2021. Fewer than two thirds of those surveyed said they were willing to receive their annual flu vaccination during the same clinical encounter, although current guidance indicates that COVID and flu vaccinations may be safely administered together.


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