With a new, more comprehensive COVID-19 booster dose now authorized and recommended by federal health officials, these updated booster shots will start to become available in Rhode Island this week and next.
"This is a good reminder that one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19 is to stay up to date on vaccination," said Governor Dan McKee. "The Rhode Island Department of Health continues to monitor vaccine availability closely and will ensure that this new, more comprehensive booster dose is available for Rhode Islanders as soon as possible."
The more comprehensive booster doses are bivalent vaccine, meaning that they target two strains of COVID-19. The bivalent COVID-19 boosters from Pfizer and Moderna target the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 and the Omicron variant, which is the strain causing most current cases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now recommending that everyone age 12 or older who has received a primary series of COVID-19 vaccine get a bivalent booster at least two months after their last dose. (This bivalent booster dose is not available to children younger than 12.) This recommendation applies no matter how many boosters a person has already received. For example, if a person received their primary series and two booster doses, they should still get a bivalent booster at least two months after their last booster dose.
Rhode Island is working to ensure that bivalent booster doses are available to residents in long-term care facilities and assisted living facilities, as residents of these facilities are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19.
Some Rhode Island primary care providers have begun ordering bivalent COVID-19 booster doses. After receiving vaccine, primary care providers work with patients to schedule appointments. People should contact their primary care providers to learn about bivalent vaccine availability. Separately, some independent pharmacies and retail pharmacies (such as CVS and Walgreens) are beginning to schedule appointments for bivalent COVID-19 boosters for this week. Vaccines.Gov is an additional tool people can use to learn about the availability of bivalent COVID-19 booster doses.
The Pfizer bivalent booster is recommended for people age 12 or older and the Moderna bivalent booster is recommended for people age 18 or older. The bivalent boosters will replace existing Pfizer and Moderna monovalent boosters. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and CDC have repealed their authorization and recommendation for the current Pfizer and Moderna monovalent boosters. This means that anyone age 12 or older who would like a COVID-19 booster will get a bivalent booster.
For more information about COVID-19, see covid.ri.gov.