The FDA amended its emergency use authorizations of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to allow bivalent formulations to be used as a single booster dose at least two months after primary or booster vaccination.
FDA will refer to the bivalent doses in literature as “updated doses,” which contain two messenger RNA components of SARS-CoV-2 virus: one of the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 and the other one in common between the BA.4 and BA.5 lineages of the omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2.
According to the FDA, individuals 18 years of age and older are eligible for a single booster dose of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent if they are at least two months removed from the completion of their primary vaccination series or have received the most recent booster dose with any authorized or approved monovalent COVID-19 vaccine. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent booster is authorized as a single booster dose for individuals 12 years of age and older who are at least two months removed from the completion of their completed primary vaccination or have received the most recent booster dose with any authorized or approved monovalent COVID-19 vaccine.
How Are the Updated Boosters Different From the First Ones?
The new and improved COVID-19 boosters have added omicron BA.4 and BA.5 spike protein components to the current vaccine make-up, which helps restore protection that has waned since previous vaccination by targeting variants that are more transmissible and immune-evading. In this sense, the new boosters provide extra protection in that they have “caught up” to the current forms the virus has taken, specifically omicron.
Like the original monovalent COVID-19 vaccines, the updated bivalent vaccine boosters include an mRNA component of the original strain along with the newly added components to strengthen immune response against the virus on a wider scale.
Is there a difference between the Pfizer and Moderna boosters?
“There is not a significant difference between the two. Some studies have shown a benefit to changing vaccines, so there’s nothing wrong with starting with a Pfizer primary series and then switching to a Moderna booster—or vice versa,” Dr. Roberts says.
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