After over 2 years of wearing masks and having mask mandates, to no more mask mandates to wearing masks only indoors and all the other "mask" recommendations, we are still talking about Covid-19 today. Covid is still very much as serious and contagious as ever, and we must do our part to try to keep it at bay. However, with the many vaccine manufacturers, and improvements in vaccine components to protect against the newly evolving variants, we can fear less and rest well knowing that we are protected from serious illness, hospitalization and even death.
At first, the vaccine series only included getting 2 doses of the vaccine for the average healthy individual. Another dose would be needed in those that were immunocompromised. Then we learned months later that the protection/immunity that the vaccine provided decreased with time. As such, a booster dose was recommended. We later moved to a second booster being recommended after a period of time. Remember, the vaccine manufacturers are still trying to figure out this virus and the best approach to hopefully eliminate it once and for all. All in all, the same vaccine was administered for all the doses a patient would end up getting. You would just get an additional dose. Whether it was made by Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson and Johnson, these vaccines were all classified as being "monovalent" formulations.
Fast forward to August 31, 2022, when we have the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announcing that the previous monovalent formulations on the market will no longer be approved to be used as booster doses. Does that mean the previous boosters you got are basically null and void? Does that mean you have to get an additional dose? How long do I need to wait to get this new booster? Your AskUSPharmacist team has you covered with navigating the still very scarce data on the updated vaccine to be used as the booster dose.
Manufacturers Moderna and Pfizer have received authorization from the FDA for their updated bivalent Covid-19 formulations of the vaccines to be used as booster doses instead of the previously used monovalent formulations. Bivalent means that the vaccine has been updated to have two components: parts of the original covid strain as well as parts of the Omicron strain. This is intended to improve the efficacy of the vaccine since the virus keeps evolving. With its continued evolution, protection against covid also has to also evolve to continue to provide protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death. For extended protection, it is recommended to receive either of the updated formulations. The eligibility for receiving the vaccine still remains the same. The difference is that instead of waiting 6 months, you only need 2 months to get the updated booster vaccine, regardless of which of the two manufacturers you decide to get. The Moderna formulation is approved for use in individuals 18 years and older, while the Pfizer formulation is approved for use in individuals 12 years and older. Stay connected to your AskUSPharmacist for more information as details continue to become available.