NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Now that the CDC has approved updated COVID-19 booster shots, Connecticut’s Department of Public Health is reminding people that only those who have received their primary series of COVID-19 vaccines should get the updated booster.
The CDC on Thursday endorsed the recommendation by an advisory panel to recommend the use of COVID-19 booster shots targeted against omicron variants. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cleared Pfizer-BioNTech’s updated booster for people ages 12 years and older, and Moderna’s updated booster for adults 18 and older.
In the coming weeks, the CDC also expects to recommend updated COVID-19 boosters for other pediatric groups. When data is available and FDA authorizes these other types of boosters, the CDC said it will work quickly to help make them available in the U.S.
The FDA’s authorization of updated COVID-19 boosters and the CDC’s recommendations for use are “critical next steps forward in our country’s vaccination program,” the CDC said.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, M.D., M.P.H., said the boosters are “formulated to better protect against the most recently circulating COVID-19 variant.”
“They can help restore protection that has waned since previous vaccination and were designed to provide broader protection against newer variants,” Walensky said. “This recommendation followed a comprehensive scientific evaluation and robust scientific discussion. If you are eligible, there is no bad time to get your COVID-19 booster and I strongly encourage you to receive it.”
Public Health Commissioner Dr. Manisha Juthani encourages all eligible Connecticut residents to get an updated booster, especially those who are 65 and older or immunocompromised.
The new COVID booster is one of the many vials that have already arrived at Hartford HealthCare. The Healthcare system’s director of pharmacy told News 8 they already received a small percentage of their supply requested.
“We’re heading into the holiday weekend, our IT people are still setting up the new booster for appointments,” Hartford HealthCare’s Director of Pharmacy Eric Arlia said. “We’re really shooting to kick all that off next week.”
Vaccine and booster strengths wane over time, and the fall and winter are when health experts could see COVID-19 cases spike. The omicron BA.5 variant is extremely contagious, so the goal is to get people boosted to prevent its danger and continued spread.
“We’d encourage individuals who have been waiting to get their booster dose or individuals who are far out from their last booster dose to take advantage of the authorizations of these bivalent vaccines as we head into the fall and winter months,” Dr. Doran Fink from the FDA told ABC News.
Since April, hospitalization rates in people over age 65 have jumped, the CDC said. In Connecticut, 353 people remain hospitalized, a number that has been somewhat consistent recently. Seventy-four people died in Connecticut in the past seven days.
“As soon as we have enough vaccines available, we will be distributing it to all of our medical group offices that have been offering the vaccine throughout,” Arlia said.
Arlia said things are moving quickly and happening faster.
“I think very quickly, we’ll move into a period where the vaccine is readily available,” Arlia said.
Arlia recommends people keep checking the Hartford HealthCare website to get the very latest information on vaccine supply and to use “MyChart.”
State health officials said Connecticut residents should contact their primary care physician to schedule an appointment or visit www.vaccines.gov to find a provider.
The tweaked boosters also will be available at local health departments and through the Department of Public Health’s Yellow Van mobile clinics program.