The COVID vaccines have been updated to provide better protection against newer strains of the COVID virus. They are FDA approved for individuals 12 years of age and older and are authorized under emergency use for children 6 months through 11 years of age.
Updated COVID Vaccines
One thing to know about the updated COVID vaccines are that they are no longer free! In the United States, the government had been paying for COVID vaccines, but that ended when we moved to getting COVID vaccines from the commercial market instead.
The other things you need to know about the updated COVID vaccines is that because the COVID virus has mutated and our immunity to previous infections and immunizations has likely waned, we would all benefit from getting one of these new, updated 2023-24 formulations of the COVID vaccines.
An updated COVID vaccine is especially important for anyone who is at high risk for complications for a severe COVID infection.
If you think you don’t need to get vaccinated and protected, it is important to know that most of the children and adults who have been hospitalized for COVID-19 since January 2023 had not received an updated bivalent booster – when the booster became available.
What if you don’t have insurance?
COVID vaccines are available for uninsured and underinsured children and adults through the already established Vaccines for Children program and the new Bridge Access Program, a temporary solution for access to COVID-19 vaccines for uninsured adults.
If you have insurance, your insurance carrier should pay for your vaccine.
Which vaccine should you get?
In general, most older children and adults can get either an updated 2023-24 formulation of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID vaccine, even if they received a different brand for previous doses. The updated Novavax COVID-19 vaccine, a protein subunit vaccine, is currently under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorization (EUA) in individuals aged 12 and older and is not yet available.
“Children ages 6 months–4 years should receive all doses of COVID-19 vaccine from the same manufacturer; this includes children who are moderately or severely immunocompromised and those who are not. People ages 5 years and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should receive a 3-dose initial vaccination series using vaccines from the same manufacturer.”Interchangeability of COVID-19 vaccines
The exception is younger children, including infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, who should get an updated COVID booster that is of the same brand as their primary series and/or booster dose.
What if you can’t find the same brand?
Fortunately, there are exceptions and your child should still be able to get an updated COVID vaccine.
When should you get your updated COVID vaccine?
You should likely get it as soon as it is available! There is no reason to wait and put yourself at risk to get COVID while you are unprotected. You can even get it at the same time you get your annual flu shot and/or other vaccines.
Who should not get an updated COVID vaccine?
“Individuals who receive an updated mRNA COVID-19 vaccine may experience similar side effects as those reported by individuals who previously received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines as described in the respective prescribing information or fact sheets.”FDA Takes Action on Updated mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines to Better Protect Against Currently Circulating Variants
What about the risk of myocarditis?
Although myocarditis and pericarditis was rarely seen in teens and young adults after they got a COVID vaccine, this was not seen in younger children and was not seen in any group for the bivalent booster doses. And since myocarditis is much more common after a natural COVID infection, concern about myocarditis likely shouldn’t keep you from vaccinating your kids!
What if you already had COVID?
Although you can wait up to three months to get vaccinated, since there is a risk of waning immunity, even with a natural infection, you should still get vaccinated. You can usually get vaccinated as soon as your COVID symptoms are gone and you are no long contagious though.
What to Know About the Updated COVID Vaccines
Everyone who is at least 6 months old should get an updated COVID vaccine to help reduce their risk of serious COVID infections.
More on the Updated COVID Vaccines
- Are Kids Dying With COVID-19?
- The Truth About COVID-19 Vaccines
- COVID-19 Vaccination Questions and Answers
- COVID Vaccine Safety in Children
- CDC – Interchangeability of COVID-19 vaccines
- CDC – Prevaccination Checklist for COVID-19 Vaccines
- COVID-19 Vaccine Timing 2023-24
- COVID-19 Vaccine Product Guide
- FDA Takes Action on Updated mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines to Better Protect Against Currently Circulating Variants
- FDA – COVID-19 Vaccines for 2023-2024
- CDC – Clinical Considerations: Myocarditis and Pericarditis after Receipt of COVID-19 Vaccines Among Adolescents and Young Adults
- HHS Commercialization Transition Guide
- CDC’s Bridge Access Program
- ACIP Presentation Slides: September 12, 2023 Meeting
- How to Reduce Risk of Getting Long COVID
- Three New Studies Show the COVID Vaccines Are Very Safe for Children
- I Felt Sick After Getting a Vaccine. Why?
- Are triple-vaccinated people more likely to be infected by the Omicron variant than the unvaccinated?