The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) recently announced new guidance for bivalent COVID-19 booster doses, which are now available for eligible children down to 6 months of age. The updated boosters are the first to be targeted to the original virus strain and recently circulating variants, and are recommended for young New Yorkers and all those eligible.
“Getting the much-needed bivalent boosters to children as young as 6 months of age will further expand the State’s ability to protect the littlest New Yorkers against current and emerging COVID-19 variants,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said. “Making sure you and your children get all COVID-19 shots, as well as this year’s flu shot, is the best possible way to prevent serious illness and hospitalization. I strongly encourage parents and guardians to get themselves and their children vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible to protect their family, loved ones, and communities from getting very sick from COVID-19.”
In accordance with FDA’s authorization and CDC’s recommendations for use, eligible children ages 6 months through 5 years of age who previously completed a Moderna primary series are eligible to receive a Moderna bivalent booster two months after their final primary series dose.
As the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine series is a three-shot regimen for this age group, children ages 6 months through 4 years who have not yet started or are currently completing their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series will receive the Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent shot as their third primary dose.
More than 2.6 million bivalent booster doses have been administered to individuals 5 years and older in New York State. The bivalent boosters add Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 spike protein components to the vaccine, targeting recent variants that are more transmissible and immune evading. The shots are expected to help reduce New Yorkers' chances of getting severe illness from COVID-19, including hospitalization or even death.
Providers that pre-ordered and received bivalent doses are authorized to begin administering shots to New Yorkers down to 6 months old in accordance with the guidance.
New Yorkers also continue to be impacted by influenza, which remains widespread with cases still rising statewide, as well as respiratory syncytial virus(RSV). To avoid serious illness, everyone 6 months and older is encouraged to get the flu shot, which is a good match to the current strain this year.
Parents should talk to their child’s health care provider to ensure their child is up to date on their COVID-19 and other vaccines. While there is no vaccine for RSV, testing and treatment for it is covered by insurance.
Parents are encouraged to use their child’s break from school to schedule a vaccine appointment.
To schedule a flu or COVID-19 shot, New Yorkers should contact a health care provider, local pharmacy, or county health department.
New Yorkers can also visit vaccines.gov, text their ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find nearby locations. At vaccines.gov, after entering a 5-digit ZIP Code, New Yorkers can click "Updated Vaccines" and select the bivalent booster type by age they are seeking to book an appointment for themselves or their children.
Learn more about COVID-19 boosters.