CLEVELAND — With the new omicron booster now available to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, some people may be wondering how it works or if they need it.
“The bivalent booster has two different components of mRNA in it, so half of it helps to protect against the original strain of the COVID virus,” explained Kimberly Giuliano, MD, pediatrician for Cleveland Clinic Children’s. “It’s 50% the same as the vaccine we have been getting all along. The other 50% encodes for proteins that protect us against the BA.4 and BA.5 variants.”
Both Moderna and Pfizer are offering the new omicron booster. However, they do have different age restrictions.
Moderna is only available to those 18 and older, while Pfizer can be given to those who are 12 and older.
Dr. Giuliano said side effects are similar to what a person would experience with the original vaccine. For example, soreness at the site of the injection, fatigue, headache and chills.
There is a risk for myocarditis, which is inflammation of the heart, but she points out that the risk is even higher if you were to contract COVID.
So, what if you already got the original vaccine and booster? You should still get this one, but you’ll have to wait at least two months before doing so.
“The two month interval is a recommended minimum, so it’s acceptable to wait a little bit longer if you are a healthy individual without risk factors and you live with healthy individuals without risk factors where you’re worried that even if you had a mild disease you could pass it on and cause more serious disease in somebody else,” said Dr. Giuliano.
With a more active flu season expected, she also recommends getting your flu shot. The vaccine is safe to be administered alongside the omicron booster.
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