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COVID Update: Vaccine Targeting New Variants Now Available

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September 7, 2022

To find nearby locations offering updated COVID-19 boosters, New York State residents can text to ZIP Code 438829, call 1-800-232-0233, or Visit Here  

The bivalent COVID-19 vaccine boosters, which are designed to target Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants as well as bolster previous vaccination protection was announced by Governor Cathy Hochul. This follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation to use updated COVID-19 boosters from Pfizer-BioNTech for anyone age 12 or older and from Moderna for those 18 or older. 

To schedule an appointment for the updated COVID-19 booster, New Yorkers should contact their regular health care provider, local pharmacy, or local county health department. New Yorkers can also visit vaccines.govtext their ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find nearby locations.     

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 “Getting vaccinated and boosted remains our best shot at protecting ourselves and fellow New Yorkers,” the governor said, “and I encourage everyone eligible to sign up and get the updated bivalent COVID-19 booster.”

 The governor also announced that masking will now be optional in multiple settings where they were previously required, including on public transportation, in for-hire vehicles, at airports, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, and detention centers. Masks will continue to be required at adult care and health care facilities regulated by the state Department of Health, and in clinical settings regulated by the Office of Mental Health, Office of Addiction Services and Supports, and Office for People WithDevelopmental Disabilities.

To be eligible to receive the updated bivalent COVID-19 booster, individuals must have completed their original vaccine series or received a booster at least two months before.     

According to State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett, “These bivalent boosters for the first time are tailored to a circulating variant. I encourage all eligible New Yorkers to take advantage of this advance and contact their health provider, visit the local pharmacy, or call their county health department to get this booster as soon as possible.”   

New York’s Department of Health will shortly be issuing updated clinical guidance on the administration of bivalent booster doses to all providers enrolled in the New York State vaccination program. Providers that pre-ordered and received the bivalent doses are now authorized to begin administering them in accordance with the Federal Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization for these boosters and the updated CDC recommendations.   

Providers should also note that monovalent mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are no longer authorized for use as boosters for people ages 12 years or older, according to the updated federal guidance. Scheduled appointments to administer monovalent Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna boosters to people 12 years of age or older must be rescheduled for when locations have the bivalent COVID-19 vaccines available.   

In the weeks ahead, the CDC also indicated that it expects to recommend updated COVID-19 boosters for younger pediatric groups, as well. Until then, the monovalent mRNA Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine remains authorized for use as boosters in children ages 5 through 11 and for all primary series vaccinations.     

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