OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Revamped COVID-19 booster shots should be available in Oklahoma in just a matter of days.
The latest boosters are designed to target both the original strain of Coronavirus and the new Omicron variants that most people are catching right now, and the arrival comes after the CDC approved an updated shot for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines on September 1.
At the time, CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, M.D., M.P.H., backed the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) recommendations for use of the updated COVID-19 boosters from Pfizer-BioNTech for people ages 12 years and older and from Moderna for people ages 18 years and older.
“The updated COVID-19 boosters are formulated to better protect against the most recently circulating COVID-19 variant. They can help restore protection that has waned since previous vaccination and were designed to provide broader protection against newer variants,” she said in a statement. “This recommendation followed a comprehensive scientific evaluation and robust scientific discussion. If you are eligible, there is no bad time to get your COVID-19 booster and I strongly encourage you to receive it.”
In a recent virtual update, local health officials echoed the recommendation to get the latest COVID booster shot.
“2022 hit and we had this enormous surge of the variants, the most contagious of the variants we’ve seen today at that point,” said Dr. Dale Bratzler, Chief Covid Officer for the University of Oklahoma.
Even though there are fewer documented cases in Oklahoma this year compared to this time last year, health officials believe those subvariants are responsible for nearly ninety percent of new cases in the U.S.
Dr. Bratzler estimated that number to be even greater.
“In Oklahoma, if you look at accounts of variants, right now, 99.8% of all infections are due to one of those variants,” he said. “[The] BA.4 and BA.5 [variants] are absolutely driving right now the spread of the disease in the United States and in Oklahoma.”
“The interesting thing about the emergence of variants is that even if you previously had an infection, these new sub variants had a mutation that made them somewhat resistant to the immunity that you developed from previously having COVID-19,” he continued.
“The Bivalent vaccines protect against both the original strains of the virus that came into the United States in 2020, and the Omicron subvariants. [A] booster dose of this new bivalent vaccine creates strong neutralizing antibodies,” he added.
“The data are very clear that [booster] reduces the risk of reinfection and the complications of hospitalization,” said Dr. Bratzler.
According to the CDC, the new booster recommendation is for people ages 12 years and older to receive 1 bivalent mRNA booster after completion of a monovalent primary series.
That guidance replaces all prior booster recommendations for this age group.
Additional information about those recommendations can be found here.
The state of Oklahoma previously announced its intent to move “toward the endemic phase of this pandemic”, also moving to publishing COVID-19 data once per week.
In Oklahoma, County health departments are offering vaccine availability through a portal with an appointment, walk-in or by calling your local health department directly.
This is the first time the FDA has authorized an updated vaccine formula since the original COVID-19 vaccines were rolled out in late 2020.
The CDC said its expects also plan to recommend updated COVID-19 boosters for other pediatric groups within weeks.