Sep 7, 2022 - News

Omicron vaccine boosters are rolling out in Utah

Illustration of a person's arm with multiple bandaids on it.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Omicron vaccine booster shots are rolling out in pharmacies, doctor's offices and local health agencies throughout the state this week.

Driving the news: The FDA authorized retooled COVID-19 shots from Pfizer and Moderna last week to better protect against the contagious Omicron subvariant BA.5.

Why it matters: Studies have shown that receiving a vaccine or booster dramatically reduces the risk of hospitalization or death if infected with the virus.

Details: People ages 12 or older are eligible to receive the updated Pfizer booster if it's been two months since they completed their two-dose COVID-19 series, according to the FDA.

  • The Moderna booster is available to individuals 18 years or older, who received their vaccine at least two months ago.
  • The shots, known as "bivalent" vaccines, contain two mRNA components of the virus: the original strain and the Omicron subvariant.

Between the lines: Health officials are encouraging Americans to roll up their sleeves for the upgraded booster, especially as cooler weather approaches.

What to expect: Common booster side effects could include swelling at the injection area or a slight fever, according to Rich Lakin, immunization director for the Utah Department of Health and Human Services.

  • Of note: Your updated booster does not need to match the manufacturer of previous vaccinations.

What they're saying: "We're anticipating during the wintertime that cases are going to increase significantly," Lakin said.

By the numbers: About 63% of Utahns are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, per the state health department — lower than the national average (67.5%).

Yes, but: Less than a third of state residents have received a booster.

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