The newly authorized COVID-19 bivalent vaccine booster shots aimed at the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants of the virus as well as the original strain are now widely available in Michigan.
Many pharmacies are now carrying the bivalent boosters made by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, which earlier this month were authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Local health departments are offering the updated vaccine, too, which is expected to increase immune response to the virus and provide protection against severe illness, hospitalization and death from the virus.
“For the last two years, this virus has continued evolving while our vaccines have stayed the same,” said Dr. Asish Jha, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator in a news conference earlier this week. “But now we have a vaccine that matches the dominant strain out there.
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Who is eligible for new COVID-19 booster?
“It is reasonable to expect, based on what we know about immunology and science of this virus, that these new vaccines will provide better protection against infection, better protection against transmission, and ongoing and better protection against serious illness,” Jha said.
The Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent booster is available to anyone ages 12 and older who has already had the primary series of coronavirus vaccines. People can get this booster at least two months after their final dose in the primary series. The Moderna bivalent booster is authorized for use in those 18 and older.
It comes as the highly contagious BA.5 subvariant remains dominant in the U.S. and in Michigan, where the CDC considers the community spread of the virus to be at high or medium levels in the majority of counties.
Every day in the last week, 12 people in Michigan have died from the virus, according to the state health department. And as of Wednesday, 1,131 people were hospitalized statewide with confirmed cases of COVID-19. Among them were 40 children.
The percentage of positive tests in Michigan, an important pandemic indicator, remains above 20%.
If someone got a booster recently, before the bivalent vaccine was available, doctors say their immunity will be boosted for three to six months; then they can get the most current booster available at that point. The important point, they say, is to stay up to date on vaccines.
Where can I get the new COVID-19 bivalent vaccine?
DETROIT: The city of Detroit’s health department is hosting a free block party and family fun day from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday on John R between Mack and Erskine where people can get a bivalent booster, the primary series of COVID-19 vaccines, monkeypox vaccines and more.
No registration is required. Free parking is available at 100 Mack and in the garage at 311 Mack, said Margaret Carroll, a spokesperson for the health department.
Those who attend can get:
- Free vaccinations including flu, monkeypox and COVID-19.
- Free dental screenings.
- Free health screenings including blood pressure, cholesterol, and health education.
- Free smoke detectors, gun locks, and public safety education.
- Free food trucks (first come first served) including cotton candy and ice cream.
- Fitness exercises.
After that, Detroiters can get the bivalent COVID-19 vaccine booster at any of its vaccination sites starting Monday.
- Detroit Health Department, 100 Mack Ave., 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday.
- Northwest Activities Center, 18100 Meyers, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 am.-1 p.m. Saturday.
Schedule online here: https://patienteducationgenius.jotform.com/BGH/detroit-scheduling/self, by calling 313-876-4444, or by texting the word “vaccine” to 313-329-7272.
WAYNE COUNTY: The Wayne County Health Department has bivalent COVID-19 vaccines available at the Sheldon School Building in Canton; Berwyn Senior Citizen Center in Dearborn Heights; Hamtramck City Hall; Ernest T. Ford Recreation Center in Highland Park; Lincoln Park Community Center; Livonia Senior Center; River Rouge City Hall; the Wayne County Community College District campus in Taylor; and the Wayne County Health Department Clinic in Wayne.
Go to waynecounty.com/covid19 for the most up-to-date list of hours for each vaccination site. Walk-ins are welcome. For details, including scheduling in-home vaccinations for homebound residents, call 866-610-3885.
OAKLAND COUNTY: The Oakland County Health Division plans community vaccination clinics to offer the new COVID-19 bivalent vaccine boosters. They are set for:
- Sept. 13 from 2 – 6 p.m. at Southfield Pavilion, 26000 Evergreen Rd., Southfield.
- Sept. 14 from 1 – 5 p.m. at Karl Richter Community Center, 300 East St., Holly.
- Sept. 15 from 3 – 6 p.m. at Hazel Park Community Center, 620 W. Woodward Heights Blvd., Hazel Park.
- Sept. 20 from 1-6 p.m. at Older Persons’ Commission, 650 Letica Dr., Rochester.
- Sept. 21 from 2-6 p.m. at Wixom Community Center, 49015 Pontiac Trail, Wixom.
- Sept. 22 from 1 – 6 p.m. at Robert Bowens Senior Center, 52 Bagley St., Pontiac
- In addition, the boosters are available at Health Division’s Pontiac office, 1200 North Telegraph Road, Building 34E, and the Southfield office, 27725 Greenfield Road.
Visit oakgov.com/health/register or call 800-848-5533 to make an appointment.
MACOMB COUNTY: The Macomb County Health Department has the bivalent COVID-19 boosters and is administering the shots at:
- The Verkuilen Building, 21885 Dunham Road, Clinton Township, Entrance C. Immunizations are given 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mondays and Fridays, 11:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Wednesdays.
- SW Center, 27690 Van Dyke Ave., Suite B, Warren. Vaccination appointments are available 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and 11:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Thursdays.
To learn more or to schedule an appointment, go to https://www.macombgov.org/VaccineCentral
PHARMACIES: Several drug store chains and local pharmacies now also have the bivalent COVID-19 booster available. To find one in your area, go to vaccines.gov and select the “newly authorized bivalent” when you search for your ZIP code.
Contact Kristen Shamus: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @kristenshamus.Subscribe to the Free Press.