COVID-19

The Bivalent Booster in Houston: Your Questions Answered

The new booster vaccine contains BA.4 and BA.5 strains of the omicron variant for additional protection against COVID-19.

By Shelby Stewart

Here's everything you need to know about the bivalent booster. 

A new vaccine booster is now available to Houstonians to protect themselves against the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Approved on September 1 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the new shot will not only protect against the original COVID strain but newer variants as well. Chief Infectious Disease Expert at the University of Texas Dr. Luis Ostrosky, is urging everyone to get a bivalent booster as soon as they can. “If you can get the shot, go ahead and do it now. Don’t wait to see if it becomes a problem. The booster will keep you out of the hospital and keep the virus become widespread.”

Currently, the Omicron variant is responsible for nearly 99 percent of the coronavirus cases in the state, per the Texas Department of State Health Services. The vaccine is largely encouraged by public health officials, however, there are many lingering questions to be answered about where, why, and when you should receive the bivalent booster. Thus, we’ve created a guide with some of your most pressing questions about the bivalent booster—answered.

What’s in the bivalent booster?

According to Dr. Ostrosky, the bivalent booster was crafted like your typical flu shot. The vaccine contains proteins from the initial COVID-19 strain along with subvariant strains to better protect individuals in one single shot. The new dose is also referred to as the omicron booster. 

When should you get the booster?

If you can get the booster now, you should. Dr. Ostrosky says that with the winter season approaching, now is an optimal time to protect yourself against all strains of COVID-19. If you’ve had COVID-19 in the past three months, received another vaccine, or haven’t received any vaccine at all, you should speak to a healthcare provider before receiving the bivalent booster. 

Who can receive the booster?

The CDC allocated a total of 900,000 doses of the bivalent boosters in Texas. Of those, there are 502,500 doses of Pfizer's booster and 192,800 of Moderna's. The Pfizer booster is available for people ages 12 and up, and Moderna has been approved for those 18 and up. 

Can you receive a bivalent booster and a flu shot?

Dr. Ostrosky says that both vaccines can be administered in tandem. “To save yourself time, you can receive your COVID and flu shot at the same time. Over the past two years, we’ve learned it’s perfectly safe to receive both together. We’re getting to the place where people will start receiving these two shots every September or October.”

What are the side effects of the booster?

Much like the original COVID-19 vaccine, those who receive the bivalent booster will experience similar symptoms, such as pain at the injection site, redness, fatigue, headache, chills, vomiting and fever. 

Where can you get a bivalent booster in Houston?

Both versions of the vaccines are available for order via your health care providers. Additional vaccines are available at pharmacies H-E-B, CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart. 

To find a vaccine location nearest you, visit vaccines.gov 

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