Last week, following authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended expanded use of the bivalent COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 6 months through 5 years.
The bivalent COVID-19 vaccine includes both the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 and the Omicron BA.4/BA.5 strain. “North Dakota Health and Human Services immunization unit has ordered and will receive an initial allocation of 2,200 pediatric bivalent doses from the federal government,” said Immunization Manager Jenny Galbraith. “Health care providers are in the process of educating staff and updating protocols, so most providers will begin offering this vaccine late next week.”
The Moderna bivalent vaccine is now authorized for use as a booster dose in children 6 months through 5 years. Individuals are eligible to receive a booster dose at least two months after their previous dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, if they have received 2 doses.
The Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent COVID-19 vaccine is authorized as a third dose in the Pfizer-BioNTech primary series. Children ages 6 months through 4 years who received three doses of monovalent Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to complete their primary series will not be authorized to receive a bivalent dose of bivalent COVID-19 vaccine at this time.
The original, monovalent COVID-19 vaccines remain available for individuals 6 months and older who have not yet received their primary series of COVID-19 vaccine. In North Dakota, throughout the pandemic, 79 children between the ages of 6 months and 4 years old were hospitalized, and there was one pediatric death. Only 2.5% of North Dakota children ages 4 years and younger have completed their primary series.
“To prevent hospitalization and death, it is especially important for people 65 and older, those who are immunocompromised and those with chronic conditions (i.e., heart, lung, diabetes) to receive the bivalent COVID-19 booster dose. 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.