This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended expanded use of the newly-available bivalent COVID-19 vaccines as a single-dose booster for children ages 5 to 11 who previously completed the primary series at least two months prior.
The bivalent COVID-19 vaccine protects against both the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 and the Omicron BA.4/BA.5 strain, the current predominate variant of the virus around the world. The original COVID-19 vaccines remain available to children ages 6 months to 4 years, as well as for individuals 5 years and older who have not yet received their primary series of COVID-19 vaccine. People 65 and older, those who are immunocompromised and those with chronic conditions (i.e., heart, lung, diabetes) are highly recommended to receive the bivalent booster.
“North Dakota Health and Human Services has ordered and will receive an initial allocation of 5,600 pediatric bivalent booster doses from the federal government,” said Adult Immunization Manager Jenny Galbraith. “Now that the FDA has authorized, and CDC has recommended, this vaccine for this age group, the vaccine will be available at over 70 health care provider offices throughout the state. Health care providers are in the process of educating staff and updating protocols, so most providers will begin offering vaccine early next week.”
Both Moderna and Pfizer Bio-N-Tech have bivalent vaccines authorized for use as booster doses. Pfizer Bio-N-Tech has a bivalent booster available for individuals 5 years and older. Moderna has a bivalent booster available for individuals 6 years and older. Individuals are eligible to receive a booster dose at least two months after their previous dose of the COVID-19 vaccine if they have completed the primary vaccine series. Nearly 21% of North Dakota children ages 5-11 have completed the primary series.
“North Dakotans are encouraged to have a conversation with a trusted health care provider about vaccination,” said Galbraith.
Information about COVID-19 vaccine providers and clinics near you can be found on the HHS COVID Vaccine Locator page. Individuals can also contact the Public Health Hotline at 866-207-2880 for questions related to COVID-19 and for assistance in scheduling a vaccine appointment.