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RALEIGH — Updated reinforcements are available in North Carolina, after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced this week that people 12 and older can receive an updated booster to protect against the latest COVID-19 variants. Vaccines are starting to arrive in the state and vaccine appointments will be more available starting next week.
“Updated COVID-19 boosters will be available in North Carolina. This vaccine will provide the most up-to-date protection against the latest variants and help renew your body's defense system against serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19,” said North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kody H. Kinsley. “As the weather gets colder and we spend more time indoors, it's important to know that you're protected before going to meetings, which means getting your COVID-19 vaccines and boosters.”
The updated booster is called a bivalent vaccine, since it targets both the original coronavirus strain and the subvariants Omicron BA.4 and BA.5. It is based on safety and efficacy data from initial clinical trials, bivalent booster studies, and extensive safety and efficacy monitoring. This process is similar to that used to create the annual flu vaccine, which targets new strains each year. As of mid-August, these subvariants accounted for nearly 90% of COVID-19 cases in North Carolina. People aged 5 to 11 can still receive the original reinforcement, but it is expected that the updated reinforcement will be available to the youngest in the coming weeks.
Booster, like all COVID-19 vaccines, is safe to combine with the annual flu shot. People should get a flu shot starting this month to build immunity before the virus spreads in late fall and winter.
“Many of those at high risk of serious complications from the flu (older people, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems) are also at risk of serious complications from COVID-19,” said Dr. Elizabeth, director of state health and medical director of the NCDHHS. Tilson Raven. “COVID-19 and flu shots can be taken together, and we encourage all North Carolinians to stay up to date on both.”
COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone, regardless of insurance or immigration status. Flu vaccines are often available at a low cost or at no cost.
People should receive the updated COVID-19 booster two months after finishing their primary series or any booster dose. North Carolina's actions are based on recommendations from the FDA, the CDC, and the NCDHHS evaluation. Read the full CDC statement here.
For more information about COVID-19 vaccines, boosters, tests and treatments, or to find places to get a COVID-19 and influenza vaccine, visit Myspot.nc.gov or contact the North Carolina COVID-19 Vaccine Help Center by phone at 888. -675-4567.