WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Wednesday was the first day the new COVID-19 bivalent booster shots became available at vaccine centers in D.C.
Doctors hope this new booster, tailored to the current variants out there, might even help prevent infections.
There was a line out the door at the vaccine center in Friendship Heights, with people eager to get the new COVID booster.
“I’ve had four. I’m quite up to date but I want the bivalent vaccine because it’s going to protect me against the new variants,” said Martin Dickinson.
“I’ve had two shots plus the booster. Last one I had was in November. So it’s been a while,” said Ruth Yi.
The bivalent booster is a newly formulated vaccine to protect against Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants as well as the original COVID-19 strain.
“As this virus has continued to mutate, it has become more immune evasive, which has made it very difficult for the vaccine to hold up when it comes to preventing infection,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, infectious disease doctor and senior scholar with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
Adalja says the hope is the bivalent vaccine can prevent infection.
“We don’t know how well these boosters will do at preventing infection and for how long they might be durable,” Adalja said. “Those are all questions that will come out from the clinical trials that are ongoing.”
Everyone 12 and up can get the Pfizer vaccine and those 18 and up can get the Moderna.
Adalja says too many high-risk people still haven’t been boosted.
“The people that should be lining up first are those individuals that are high risk. So maybe they’re elderly, they’re obese, they have diabetes, they have heart or lung disease, they’re immunocompromised, who have not been boosted yet,” Adalja said.
There has been some conflicting guidance as the CDC says you can get the new booster two months after a previous shot.
“I do think that waiting at least two months makes sense. And probably waiting longer three or four months probably makes even more sense so that you get the full benefit of the new booster,” Adalja said.
Whether people go out to actually get the booster remains to be seen.
“It is encouraging that it seems to be a broad spectrum of people getting it,” said David Winn.
Adalja does expect cases to increase as the weather gets colder and more people gather inside. The same concerns extend to the flu, which is why D.C. is making flu shots available at the same time.