Key details for local residents about COVID shots, new boosters

Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 11:43 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. - The Georgia Department of Public health is promising better protection when it comes to COVID-19, in the form of the just-released booster formulated against newer as well as older forms of coronavirus.

“Not only does it have the vaccine for the original version of the virus, but the second ingredient covers the current version of the omicron virus that accounts for 90% of the infections in the community,” said Georgia health expert Dr. Charles Ruis.

The “bivalent” COVID-19 vaccine booster will replace the original Pfizer booster.

People can get the new booster if they’ve gotten both doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or one dose of Johnson and Johnson.

They have to be two months out from those vaccines, and they also have to be at least 12 years old.

Anyone under 12 will get the original Pfizer booster.

“With variants that we’ve seen, it turns out that the original vaccine isn’t as effective as they were initially. This is really good news,” said Ruis.

Because the booster is so new, Ruis said they are still learning how long protection lasts. At this point, they’re expecting six months.

The new doses have been distributed in Richmond County, and appointments are already available.

For Barney’s Pharmacy in Augusta, demand for the new booster is already high.

“We have had a lot of interest. A lot of people have been reaching out to us,” said pharmacist Amanda Reddick.

“The new booster is for anyone who has never had a booster, or anyone who was boosted with the old formulation before the omicron variant was added in. Just has to be at least two months after your last booster dose,” she said.

Across the Savannah River, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control says the new booster has been shipped in the Palmetto State, as well.

South Carolina public health leaders say COVID cases climbed over the summer.

DHEC Director of Public Health Dr. Brannon Traxler said: “We have seen more easily spreading omicron variant this summer. We have seen people who don’t have severe disease, but just don’t feel well.”

She says it’s likely COVID will become like the flu and cause seasonal outbreaks, which is why it’s important to get updated vaccines.

“This is a very safe and effective vaccine, and it really is a step in the right direction for keeping up with the virus,” said Traxler.

While COVID may not cause as many hospitalizations as it once did, it can interrupt daily life.

Reddick said: “You want to make sure you stay well so that you can meet your responsibilities, be there for your family and feel your best, so that’s why I would encourage people to take the booster.”