Bivalent Booster Update 

The U.S. Food and Drug Association’s (FDA) authorization of the bivalent booster vaccine on August 31, 2022 is an exciting milestone in the fight against COVID-19. Find previous updates about this topic in the August 31 or September 7 community partner newsletter.  

This week, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) shared suggestions for providers facing supply and demand issues in their distribution of bivalent boosters and explored whether bivalent booster doses can be administered at the same time as the flu vaccine. 

Bivalent Booster Early Distribution 

As initial distribution of the updated bivalent booster gets underway, DOH anticipates the demand for shots will outpace the supply. In addition to a limited initial supply, both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent booster orders have been delayed, and those shipment delays may affect availability in some areas.  

In a recent vaccine partner newsletter, DOH encouraged providers to consider focusing their early administration of bivalent boosters on opportunities to prevent severe illness, minimize the spread of disease and protect communities who have been disproportionally affected by COVID-19. The following is a non-exhaustive list of populations which may benefit most from bivalent vaccine boosters where supplies are limited: 

  • People aged 50 years and older 
  • People with certain medical conditions — CDC list 
  • Certain immunocompromised individuals — CDC list 
  • People who live in multigenerational households    
  • People who live or work with people who are at risk of severe illness  
  • People who live or work in congregate settings   
  • People at higher risk for exposure in their workplace 
  • Communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 — CDC and DOH health equity strategies 

Can I get a bivalent booster dose and flu vaccine at the same time? 

Yes! In a recent newsletter, DOH shared that it is safe to get the bivalent booster—or any COVID-19 vaccine—at the same time as the flu vaccine or any other vaccine. This information can also be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) webpage.  

As providers discuss vaccination options with patients and clients, DOH offered the following insights and recommendations in their recent newsletter:  

  • Studies show health care providers play an important role as the most trusted source of vaccine information. 
  • A patient is four to five times more likely to be vaccinated after receiving a strong recommendation by a health care provider, according to the CDC.  
  • In cases where a patient is vaccine hesitant, taking a bundled approach may be helpful. If a patient is less hesitant about the flu vaccine, for example, they may be more receptive to a COVID-19 vaccine if both vaccines are presented as a bundled recommendation. Learn more about bundling children’s COVID-19 and flu vaccines here.  
  • In cases where a patient is vaccine hesitant, taking a presumptive approach may be helpful. Studies have shown that parents are more likely to accept a vaccine when the provider approaches the parent with the assumption that they will choose to vaccinate, according to the CDC. Alternatively, a participatory approach from a provider—when the vaccine is presented as a decision—has been less effective. Learn more about the presumptive approach here.