New guidelines allow high-risk people additional COVID-19 doses

Published 5:43 pm Friday, May 5, 2023

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The Virginia Health Department is immediately implementing new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding vaccination for COVID-19. 

On April 19, the CDC announced its simplified COVID-19 vaccine guidance that now allows individuals who are at higher risk for severe illness to receive an optional additional dose of the bivalent mRNA vaccine.

All mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech) administered in Virginia will be the bivalent mRNA vaccines and will be given on a simplified administration schedule. Under this, people who have not yet received a bivalent mRNA vaccine dose – including young children who have completed their primary vaccination series, older children, adolescents, and adults under the age of 65 – are eligible to receive a single bivalent mRNA dose. 

Certain populations – young children who haven’t completed their primary series, adults aged 65 years and older, and persons with compromised immunity – may receive two or more bivalent mRNA doses. 

Novavax and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen currently do not have authorized bivalent vaccines and will remain available in their current formulations on their current schedules.

Anyone interested in obtaining a free bivalent mRNA vaccine should check the Vaccinate Virginia website or contact the VDH Call Center. Call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682, TTY users call 7-1-1), 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Assistance is available in English, Spanish, and more than 100 other languages. There may be a delay in providers having bivalent mRNA vaccine available but check back within a few days.