Omicron booster on way to Washington residents before fall


The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) and other healthcare providers will soon distribute Omicron variant-targeted bivalent booster doses of the Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines. This comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the booster and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices recommended it.

The Omicron vaccine boosters are made up of Pfizer and Moderna’s original vaccine with BA.4 and BA.5 spike protein components, which, according to a September 3 DOH press release, targets variants that are more transmissible and immune-evading. The primary Covid-19 vaccine series will stay the same, given their proven efficacy in preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death from Covid-19. 

DOH recommends the following for booster doses:

• Youth ages 12-17 years old who have completed a primary vaccine series can receive the Pfizer bivalent booster at least two months after their most recent dose.

• People 18 and older who have completed a primary vaccine series can receive either the Pfizer or Moderna bivalent booster at least two months after their most recent dose.

• Children ages 5-11 who have completed Pfizer’s primary vaccine series should continue to receive the company’s original booster at least five months after their most recent dose.

• Children ages 6 months to 4 years old are currently not authorized for any Covid-19 booster doses.

• People who are 12 years and older who currently have appointments to receive Covid-19 booster doses will need to contact their providers to ensure the bivalent booster is available. If not, those appointments will need to be rescheduled, as the former monovalent booster doses are no longer authorized for this age group.

“We’re excited this updated bivalent booster will help increase protection against the Omicron variants as we head into the fall season,” wrote Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett, chief science officer at DOH, in a statement. “As SARS-CoV-2 changes, so must the tools we use against it – this update helps ensure that vaccines and boosters will continue to be the most effective ways to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death, and keep those most at-risk healthy and safe.”

An initial allocation of 191,100 bivalent booster doses is expected to be available beginning the week of September 5. 

DOH officials asked people to be patient as demand is expected to exceed available inventory as supply builds up in the next few weeks. For more information, visit DOH’s vaccine locator online at or call the Covid-19 information hotline at 800/525-0127.

In Whatcom County, the Covid-19 case rate was 97.8 cases per 100,000 people from August 18 to August 24. Whatcom County Health Department reported 243 cases during that week. This was the lowest Covid-19 case rate since the beginning of April, when there were 89 cases per 100,000 people from April 7 to April 13. 

There have been 327 people in Whatcom County who have died of Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the health department. About 1,890 Whatcom County residents have been hospitalized from Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic. 

In Whatcom County, 77 percent of Whatcom County residents have started the primary Covid-19 vaccine series and 70 percent have completed it. Nearly 61 percent of county residents over the age of 5 have received a booster shot, according to the health department. 


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