RICHMOND — Eligible residents of Virginia are now able to schedule appointments with their healthcare providers to receive the new, free COVID-19 bivalent booster vaccinations, the Virginia Department of Health announced.
Manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, these newly updated boosters are targeted specifically at the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the Omicron variant that initially emerged in the United States in November 2021.
“The elderly and those with significant chronic disease remain at the highest risk of severe illness and hospitalization due to COVID-19,” said State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, MD, MPH. “Being vaccinated and boosted significantly reduces this risk.”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to the two vaccines on Aug. 31. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a panel of independent scientific advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), subsequently voted to recommend the updated Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for those 12 years and older and the updated Moderna vaccine for those 18 years and older at least 2 months after completion of a primary series or booster dose.
The CDC director endorsed the ACIP recommendations on Sept. 1.
The state’s 35 local health districts have pre-ordered 100,800 Pfizer-BioNTech vials and 40,900 Moderna vials through the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), and it is anticipated to arrive at local health department offices and partner providers by Sept. 6.
Pharmacies have also preordered vaccines through their federal partnership.
Those with questions about the vaccine and their individual situations are advised to contact their healthcare providers.
To find free vaccination opportunities near you, visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682, TTY users call 7-1-1) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Assistance is available in English, Spanish, and more than 100 other languages.