On Oct. 12, 2022, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration amended the emergency use authorizations (EUAs) of Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna updated (bivalent) COVID-19 vaccine boosters to include younger age groups. Pfizer’s updated booster is available for those ages 5 years and older and Moderna’s is available for those ages 6 years and older. Both are given at least two months after completing the primary series or booster.

Updated COVID-19 boosters are available at HealthWorks Immunization Clinic, a service of Hattiesburg Clinic and Forrest General Hospital, and can be booked through Iris, Hattiesburg Clinic’s patient portal, or by calling (601) 261-1620. Patients can also contact their pediatrician or primary care provider’s office to schedule an appointment.  

The updated COVID-19 vaccines now include Omicron spike protein components to the current vaccine composition, helping to restore protection that has waned since previous vaccination and targeting the dominant Omicron strains shown to be more transmissible and immune-evading. 

For children ages 12 and under, the vaccine dosage is less: Moderna’s booster is half the dose of its original and the Pfizer booster is a third of its original dose. 

Anita Henderson, MD, a pediatrician at Hattiesburg Clinic and the president of the Mississippi Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, encouraged those who are eligible to get boosted, especially as the holiday season approaches.

“During this time of year, we are spending more time indoors and in larger groups, where the virus can spread more easily,” Henderson said. “Getting boosted will provide more protection and can keep families healthy and safe throughout the holiday festivities.”

Last winter, the U.S. experienced the largest spike in COVID cases to date with the emergence of the Omicron variant. While cases have declined since April 2022, so have vaccine and booster rates, allowing room for new variants to form. Early reports indicate the updated COVID-19 boosters could also bolster protection against variants that are not yet on the radar.

For more information about COVID-19 vaccine boosters, visit www.hattiesburgclinic.com.