The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the COVID vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older and the booster for anyone who is eligible. Making sense of it all can be challenging. Dr. Eric Robinette, pediatric infectious disease physician, explains.
What is the new booster?
The new booster for patients 12 and up is called the bivalent booster. It includes both the original COVID strain, what we call the wild type strain, or the very first version of COVID that we made a vaccine against, and the omicron BA.4 or 5 variant in the vaccine. By combining both the wild type or original COVID strain with the omicron strain in the vaccine, they’re able to produce high antibody levels against basically all of the variants that have circulated in significant levels.
Who is eligible?
Right now, the bivalent boosters are approved for patients 12 and up. A bivalent booster is recommended for anybody 12 and up, who is more than two months out from their primary series or more than two months out from their most recent booster dose that was with the original wild type vaccine.
What are the side effects?
They have studied the side effects and the safety profile of the bivalent boosters, and what they found was that the side effect profile was basically the same as the original vaccine. Some patients will get fever, chills, body aches, headaches relatively short-lived, usually lasting only 12 to 24 hours, generally relatively mild in severity.
Can the flu and COVID vaccines be given at the same time?
Yes. There’s no evidence to indicate that the vaccines interfere with the effectiveness of one or the other. If it’s convenient for you to get both, it’s a great option for getting yourself protected against both flu and COVID this winter.
If you have additional questions, please reach out to your pediatrician.