The FDA announced this morning that the reformulated (bivalent) covid vaccines have been approved for use. Relatively little information was provided today. This web/social media post is to help address early questions you may have.
The FDA did not provide specific data comparing the bivalent Moderna and Pfizer formulations to the original vaccines. This will likely occur tomorrow during the CDC’s vaccine advisory committee meeting. The FDA did announce that the original formulations of covid vaccines should no longer be administered as booster doses, likely indicating that there is a significant benefit to the new formulation over the previous version. Anyone due for a booster should await announcements from their doctor’s office or pharmacy on availability of the new vaccines.
The bivalent formulation is so named because it contains two components. One is the same mRNA found in the original Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. As mutations have occurred over the past 2 years, these antibodies haven’t been as consistently effective in warding off infection, although the vaccines have continued to do a very good job in decreasing hospitalizations and death. The second and newer component is mRNA that instructs our bodies to create antibodies specifically against the BA.4 and BA.5 variants. These are the strains of covid that now account for 99% of infections in Maryland and across the rest of the U.S.
We expect that the bivalent vaccines will be shipped to health departments, doctors’ offices, and pharmacies within 1-2 weeks. Once our health department receives its allocation, we will begin to offer it to the public. As we have said on many previous occasions, please stay tuned for additional updates.