More than 800 vaccine providers around New Jersey are expected to receive the new omicron-specific doses of the COVID-19 boosters in the coming days, state officials said Friday.
People ages 12 and older are now recommended to obtain a COVID-19 bivalent booster dose, five months after their most recent booster or primary series. The update offers better protections against severe illness and death, from the latests virus subvariants.
New Jersey has received allocations of both Pfizer and Moderna bivalent boosters, which have been recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USDA). Those are being delivered to vaccine providers now.
The bivalent vaccines target both the original COVID-19 strain and the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants that are causing most current cases and are predicted to circulate this fall and winter.
According to New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) commissioner Judith Persichilli, “With children back in school and the upcoming fall and winter holidays, the new bivalent vaccine will give New Jerseyans additional protections against these highly transmissible subvariants.”
A directory of locations offering latest boosters is at Covid19.NJ.gov/pages/finder.
Updated boosters for younger people could be recommended in the coming weeks. The new Pfizer booster is recommended for people ages 12 and older, while the Moderna booster is recommended starting at age 18. The Novavax vaccine for adolescents ages 12 to 17 that became available last week is not authorized for use as a booster dose at this time, according to the CDC.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are both mRNA (messenger RNA) vaccines that trigger an immune response. They use mRNA to instruct cells to make a harmless snippet of the spike protein that is found on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. This protein triggers an immune response in the body, producing antibodies and protecting vaccinated people from getting infected if they are exposed to the real virus.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine delivers instructions for cells with a disabled adenovirus that is not related to the coronavirus, and is unable to replicate in the body or deliver a viral infection.
COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable: If your first shot was from a Pfizer vaccine, the second one should also be Pfizer.