September 21, 2022

5 things to know about COVID-19 vaccines and boosters

The CDC now recommends that people age 12 years and older get an updated COVID-19 booster for better protection against the most prevalent omicron variants.

The COVID-19 primary series vaccine is available to all people age 6 months and older.

Vaccines and boosters are a critical part of slowing — and eventually stopping — the spread of COVID-19, and Kaiser Permanente is committed to providing you with vaccine information as it’s available.

Here are the latest 5 things you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccines and the boosters.

The time is now for the updated booster.

The COVID-19 primary vaccines and the original boosters (also known as monovalent boosters) have been effective at preventing people from getting severely sick. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends that people age 12 years and older get an updated (or bivalent) COVID-19 booster for better protection against the most prevalent omicron variants. These variants are currently causing most cases in the U.S. and are predicted to continue to circulate this fall and winter.

“The updated COVID-19 boosters have been designed to better protect against the newer variants,” said Craig Robbins, MD, physician co-lead for Kaiser Permanente’s national COVID-19 vaccination program. “The newer versions of the booster strengthen the protection that has decreased since previous vaccination.”

The CDC recommends people age 12 years and older get an updated COVID-19 booster. And children age 5 to 11 who were vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine for their initial series are still eligible to receive the original booster. Find out which booster is right for you.

Age

When are you eligible?

Which booster?

Anyone 5 to 11 who was vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine as an initial 2-dose series

5 months after initial 2-dose series

Only the original Pfizer booster

Anyone 6 to 11 who was vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine as an initial 2-dose series

Not applicable

No booster recommended at this time

Anyone 12 to 17

2 months after initial 2-dose series or most recent booster

Only the updated Pfizer booster

Anyone 18 or older who was vaccinated with Moderna, Pfizer, or Novavax for initial series

2 months after initial 2-dose series or most recent booster

Updated Pfizer or updated Moderna booster

Anyone 18 or older who was vaccinated with J&J* for initial vaccination

2 months after first dose or most recent booster

Updated Pfizer or updated Moderna booster

*People 18 or older should be aware of the rare risk of blood clots with low platelets after vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, and that this risk has not been seen with the 2 mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) or the Novavax vaccine. For more information, visit the CDC vaccine page.

For the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccines and how to find an appointment in your area, visit kp.org/covidvaccine.

6 months and older OK’d for the COVID-19 primary series vaccine.

The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 primary series vaccines are available to all people age 6 months and older.

The Pfizer vaccine for children 6 months to 4 years is administered in 3 doses, with the initial 2 doses given 3 weeks apart followed by a third dose given at least 8 weeks after the second dose.

The Pfizer vaccine for children 5 through 11 is administered as a 2-dose primary series, 3 weeks apart.

The Moderna vaccine for children 6 months through 11 years is administered in 2 doses given 4 weeks apart. The appropriate dose is determined by your child’s age at the time of the dose, regardless of the child’s weight or age at the time of a prior dose.

Members should check kp.org for availability of appointments for the updated boosters. COVID-19 vaccine locations can also be found at vaccines.gov.

Novavax OK’d, but availability is limited.

The CDC recommended the Novavax vaccine for primary series use; and it has been authorized by the FDA for individuals 12 and older. Kaiser Permanente has a limited supply of Novavax, and it is not available at all locations. Kaiser Permanente members can go to kp.org to find out when and where appointments are available for vaccination with Novavax. COVID-19 vaccination locations can also be found at vaccines.gov.

Masks remain important in high-risk settings.

Regardless of your vaccination status, the CDC recommends continued mask use in communities where serious cases of COVID-19 are straining the health system. You should also still wear a mask if you are personally at high risk, when you are with people at higher risk for severe illness, or if you wish to be cautious. And regardless of local conditions, you should wear a mask if you have COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Visit the CDC website to learn about the latest guidance for your community.

You should get vaccinated and boosted if you’re pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant.

Getting the primary vaccine series and the updated booster (being “up to date”) while pregnant can provide important protection for you and your unborn baby. The CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccination for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or who might become pregnant in the future. Additionally, there is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men.

Kaiser Permanente encourages people who have not been vaccinated to receive their primary COVID-19 vaccination series as well as the flu shot. In addition, even after being fully vaccinated, anyone with symptoms of illness should get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible and isolate at home.