Marylanders encouraged to get new COVID vaccine that targets Omicron variant

MARYLAND MATTERS: Governor Larry Hogan announced Friday that new single-dose bivalent boosters for COVID-19 will be widely available in Maryland after Labor Day. Some doses of the new boosters — which target the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 spike proteins — are already pre-positioned around the state.

Hogan (R) said all Marylanders 12 and older are encouraged to get the new shot two months after their most recent COVID vaccination.

“While federal guidance has made it confusing at times for people to know if and when they’re eligible, everyone 12 and older will be able to get to this new shot,” Hogan said in a statement. “Maryland continues to be one of the most vaccinated and boosted states, and we have always focused on staying ahead of the virus, which is why getting this new shot is so critical.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention late Thursday signed off on the approval from the agency’s independent vaccine advisers that recommended the updated coronavirus vaccine booster this fall.

The CDC recommended boosters from Pfizer-BioNTech for those who are 12 years old and older and from Moderna for those who are 18 and older. These are known as “bivalent” vaccines because they are formulated to protect against the original coronavirus strain as well as the Omicron variant, which is highly contagious.

“Updated COVID-19 boosters add Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 spike protein components to the current vaccine composition, helping to restore protection that has waned since previous vaccination by targeting variants that are more transmissible and immune-evading,” the CDC said in its announcement.

The pandemic is ongoing, and more than 1 million Americans have died from the coronavirus and another 95 million cases have been reported.

In Maryland, 14,930 have died from the virus and more than 1.2 million positive cases have been reported.

CDC guidance states that those who have been infected with COVID-19 can get a booster following recovery from symptoms, but can defer a vaccine booster up to three months following infection.

If someone has received an original two-shot vaccine from either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, they can wait five months before getting their first booster shot.

For the second booster shot, the CDC recommends that those who are immunocompromised and people over the age of 50 who got their first booster, wait at least four months before getting another booster.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement that the updated COVID-19 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,” she said. “This recommendation followed a comprehensive scientific evaluation and robust scientific discussion.”

She encouraged those who are eligible to get the COVID-19 booster to do so to prepare for the fall.

The CDC also recommends that those who are getting the Jynneos vaccine for monkeypox space out that vaccine with their COVID-19 booster.

This article was written by Maryland Matters, read more stories like this here.

PHOTO: A nurse draws a vaccine dose during a COVID-19 vaccination event at the Cameron Grove Community Center in Bowie. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

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