Frequently Asked Questions About Booster Doses of COVID-19 Vaccines

Key Facts about the Updated COVID-19 Boosters

  • Appointments for the updated Pfizer booster can be scheduled using MyChart.
  • The new, updated boosters are expected to help manage a fall/winter surge in COVID-19 cases. They will protect against the original strain of COVID-19 and the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants. BA.5 is the dominant strain of COVID-19 in our area.
  • The updated Pfizer booster is authorized for people ages 5 years and older. The Moderna booster is authorized for people ages 6 years and older. (Only Pfizer is offered at Henry Ford Health.)
  • Henry Ford Health offers the Pfizer vaccine. If you would like to receive a different brand of vaccine, visit www.michigan.gov/covidvaccine

Will the new formulations be used for primary doses?

No, the updated booster is a booster only. The vaccine for primary doses remains unchanged.

When am I eligible to get the new booster?

It can be given 2 months after completing the primary dose series, or 2 months after receiving a booster of the “old” booster formulation.

Can my child get the new booster?

The Pfizer booster is authorized for people ages 5 and older. Children under age 5 years cannot receive a booster.

Can I still get the “old” booster?

The monovalent booster is no longer authorized as a booster.

Why do we need “new” boosters?

The virus that causes COVID-19 changes over time. As the virus changes and your immunity naturally decreases over time, you may lose some of the protection you have if you were vaccinated or had COVID-19 infection. The updated COVID-19 vaccine boosters are designed to give you protection against the original virus strain and the Omicron variant, preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

What does “bivalent” mean?

You may hear the new boosters called “bivalent vaccines” or “bivalent boosters.” A bivalent vaccine creates an immune response against two different antigens. The vaccine contains mRNA encoding against the original COVID-19 spike protein and the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 spike protein. The prefix “bi” means two.

What does "monovalent" mean?

This is a term used to refer to the original booster formulation. It means it creates an immune response against the original COVID-19 spike protein. The prefix “mono” means one.

How are the updated boosters different?

The updated boosters are expected to offer a higher level of protection against the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, as well as the original strain of COVID-19.

I am up-to-date on my COVID vaccines – do I need to get re-boosted with the “new” vaccine?

If you received your last COVID vaccine shot – either your last shot in the primary series or a booster – 2 months ago or longer, you can receive the updated booster. Henry Ford Health follows the CDC’s guidelines for COVID-19 vaccines for our patients.

Do I need to get the same brand of booster as my previous vaccine/booster shots?

The updated booster does not need to be from the same manufacturer as your primary vaccinations or previous boosters.

If I already received two boosters, can I get another booster with the new formulation?

Yes, you can get an updated booster 2 months after your most recent booster if you are age 5 years or over. The same guidelines are in effect for the Moderna booster for people ages 6 years and over. (Henry Ford Health does not offer Moderna.)

How long should I wait after having a COVID infection to receive the updated booster?

You should wait until you are feeling better and no longer have COVID symptoms to get the booster. For most people, this is 7 – 10 days after symptoms first started or you had a positive COVID test.

Can I get the COVID vaccine or a booster while I am having monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID?

Yes, you do not need to wait until you have completed treatment to get the vaccine or a booster. This has changed from early in the pandemic.

I am immunocompromised – are there special instructions for me?

If you are immunocompromised, you can receive the new booster 2 months after your last vaccine dose. Your last dose can be a primary dose or a booster.

Can children who are immunocompromised get the new booster?

Yes, the updated bivalent booster is authorized for children ages 5 years and older, including those who are immunocompromised.

Were the boosters tested on people?

The FDA authorized the boosters using real-world evidence of existing Covid vaccine safety. They also used clinical trial data from earlier bivalent vaccines targeting older forms of Omicron (BA.1) and current lab data on the BA.5-targeted formulation. We know from prior experience that strain changes can be made without affecting safety. This is the approach used for flu shots every year, which are safely updated without testing them in people. This allows us to keep up with changing flu viruses, and will allow us to keep up with the changing COVID virus. Pfizer and Moderna will continue to conduct research on their updated booster formulations, including research involving people.

Is the Johnson & Johnson vaccine still available as a booster?

Yes, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can still be used as a booster.

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