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Bivalent COVID Vaccines: What You Need to Know

Sep 16, 2022
child getting his booster

With the ever-evolving news of COVID-19, vaccines, and booster shots, there may be some confusion when a new term is thrown into the mix: bivalent vaccines. Bivalent COVID-19 vaccines are essentially updated booster shots—they will help to protect against variant strands of COVID-19 like omicron. Learn more about what makes this vaccine so special and how it can provide increased protection against COVID-19 and its variants.

Monovalent Vaccines Vs. Bivalent Vaccines

Before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the usage of the new bivalent COVID-19 vaccine, people were receiving monovalent COVID-19 vaccines. A monovalent vaccine contains an mRNA component from only one strain of virus; the monovalent COVID-19 vaccine contains a component from the original strain of SARS-CoV-2.

A bivalent vaccine, however, contains mRNA components from two strains of virus. The new bivalent COVID-19 vaccine includes mRNA from the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 (just like the initial vaccine) and contains an mRNA component from the BA.4/BA.5 omicron variant. This new bivalent booster was created to combat multiple strains of COVID-19 and protect our bodies from experiencing severe illness.

The bivalent COVID-19 booster was produced because the BA.4/BA.5 strains of the omicron variant are currently causing the most cases of COVID-19 in the United States. These strains are predicted to circulate heavily this fall and winter. The best thing you can do to protect yourself from illness caused by COVID-19 is to get the bivalent booster shot. Read below to see if you and your family members are eligible.

Who is Eligible for the Bivalent COVID-19 Booster?

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration:

  • The bivalent Moderna vaccine is authorized as a single booster dose in individuals 18 years of age and older.
  • The bivalent Pfizer vaccine is authorized as a single booster dose in individuals 12 years of age and older.
  • Both are approved as a single booster dose at least 2 months following primary or booster vaccination.
  • The monovalent Pfizer vaccine remains authorized as a booster dose in 5–11-year-olds only.
  • The monovalent Moderna (ages 6 months and older) and Pfizer (ages 6 months and older) vaccines remain authorized for completion of the primary vaccine series.
  • A bivalent COVID-19 booster dose can be co-administered with other vaccines, including a flu shot.
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Featured Expert

Nationwide Children's Hospital Medical Professional
Matthew Washam, MD, MPH
Infectious Diseases

Matthew C. Washam, MD, MPH, is an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine and member of the Section of Infectious Diseases at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Dr. Washam’s research interests include understanding the risk factors for transmission of multidrug-resistant bacteria in children within the hospital environment.

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700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.