Va., Md. offer second dose of bivalent COVID-19 vaccine to high-risk individuals

Health departments for both Virginia and Maryland have announced that they will now offer an additional dose of the COVID-19 bivalent vaccine for individuals at a higher risk of severe illness, following new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control.

The CDC now allows adults ages 65 years and older and individuals that are immunocompromised to receive a second dose of the updated vaccine. The CDC also recommends multiple doses for young children, especially if they did not receive the original monovalent vaccines.

The CDC recommended in August 2022 that anyone over 12 years of age, who received a vaccine or recovered from COVID-19 over two months ago, get the new bivalent mRNA vaccine.

Now, the CDC recommends that anyone over six years old get vaccinated with the bivalent vaccine, regardless of whether they were vaccinated with the monovalent vaccine before.

How is the new bivalent mRNA vaccine different and why get a second dose?

The new bivalent mRNA vaccine helps your immune system recognize and attack the original strain of COVID-19, the Omicron strain and newer strains of COVID-19 that have come after Omicron.

According to the CDC, people who get the new vaccine are 14 times less likely to die than unvaccinated people and three times less likely to die than vaccinated people who didn’t get the bivalent booster.

At the February meeting of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, new data was presented that found that two months after adults received the shot, the booster was 50% more effective at preventing hospital visits than the original vaccine.

However, four months in that protection fell to being a little more than 30% more effective. The second boost of the bivalent vaccine will hopefully keep down hospital visits this spring, with the CDC having potential updates in the fall.

Second doses of the bivalent boosters have been recommended for individuals with increased health risks since February in the UK and March in Canada.

If you are interested in receiving a first or second bivalent mRNA vaccine in Virginia check the Vaccinate Virginia website or contact the VDH Call Center at 877-829-4682.

In Maryland, COVID-19 bivalent vaccines are available widely across the state, including at grocery store pharmacies.

Emily Venezky

Emily Venezky is a digital writer/editor at WTOP. Emily grew up listening to and reading local news in Los Angeles, and she’s excited to cover stories in her chosen home of the DMV. She recently graduated from The George Washington University, where she studied political science and journalism.

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