The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has amended the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Moderna and Pfizer mRNA vaccines. These changes have now been officially approved by the CDC.
An additional dose of bivalent vaccine is now allowed for:
➡️ People aged 65 and over more than 4 months past their last dose.
➡️ Immunocompromised people more than 2 months past their last dose (+ further doses at the discretion of clinician).
Another change is that the vaccine with only the original strain is being phased out. A single bivalent shot is now recommended for those over age 5, even for the unvaccinated. Besides simplifying the process, this change reflects high levels of population immunity from previous infection, meaning there are very few “immune naïve” people left who would need the full primary series. It is expected that updated formulas based on circulating variants will be offered on an annual basis, similar to the flu vaccine.
Kids 6 months through 5 years old are still recommended to get both a “prime” and a “boost” (either 2 doses of bivalent Moderna or 3 doses of bivalent Pfizer). If your young child has had previous doses of the original/monovalent vaccine, they can receive a bivalent vaccine but the number of doses will depend on the specific vaccine and vaccination history—check with your pediatrician.
These changes are meant to simplify recommendations as well as give flexibility to clinicians treating patients with different situations and degrees of immunosuppression.
We welcome these “permissive” guidelines that give more choice to vulnerable people and their clinicians. For most people with healthy immune systems, protection against serious disease and death is holding up well and an annual cycle of updated boosters likely makes sense. BUT, COVID-19 is still a relatively new pathogen and when and if it will settle into a true seasonal pattern is not yet known. This means scientists and regulatory bodies will continue to review the data and adjust recommendations accordingly.
Additional boosters have already been made available in the UK and Canada for older or immunocompromised adults (ages 75+ in the UK and 65+ in Canada).
No matter what your age, if you are in the US and have not yet gotten a bivalent booster, you can do so any time….go pump up that protection!
Stay safe, stay well.
Those Nerdy Girls