An updated COVID-19 booster will be available to Kenai Peninsula Borough residents as soon as Monday.
The booster — available from both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — was approved by both the United States Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week, with a report from the Associated Press saying on Friday that the updated vaccine could be available “within days.”
Amanda McKinley, a nurse at the Kenai Public Health Center, said shots are expected to be administered at the center starting Monday. Other providers have said information will be forthcoming about availability. The Walmart pharmacy said they hadn’t yet received guidance on the new booster, but they expected to have it available soon. Safeway said they’ll have an update next week.
A press release from the state Department of Health says more than 38,000 doses of the updated booster have been ordered by vaccine providers in the state.
McKinley explained that the updated vaccine is bivalent, meaning the dose contains two messenger RNA components, both the original vaccine and a new formula that targets the BA.4 and BA.5 sub variants of the Omicron variant.
“It’s a little more up to date,” McKinley said. “It reminds the body of what the original COVID strain is, but also the newer one that’s circulating.
The bivalent booster is recommended to anyone aged 12 years and older who has finished the primary series of the original vaccines. It also has to have been at least two months since the individual’s last dose. This includes individuals who have already received booster doses of existing COVID-19 vaccines, McKinley said.
The Pfizer bivalent booster is available to anyone 12 and older, while the Moderna bivalent booster is only available to those over 18, according to DOH.
According to DOH, the original booster will no longer be available to anyone older than 12. The original formula COVID vaccine will continue to be used for the primary vaccine series for all individuals.
Health officials recommend all eligible Alaskans be up to date on their COVID vaccines to minimize the infection’s impact on communities. At this point, anyone 6 months and older is eligible for a primary vaccination series and everyone 5 and up can receive a booster.
Boosters are recommended whether or not a person has already contracted the virus.
To schedule a vaccine appointment at Kenai Public Health, call 907-335-3400.
For more information on vaccine eligibility, visit https://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/epi/id/pages/covid-19/vaccineinfo.aspx.
A map of vaccine providers can be found on DOH’s COVID-19 vaccine website at covidvax.alaska.gov.
Reach reporter Jake Dye at email@example.com.