COVID-19 bivalent shots targeting other variants making their way to Houston

Health officials recently gave emergency authorization for the COVID-19 ‘combo shots’ to help combat variants of the coronavirus and eligible Houston residents can soon get theirs. 

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During an interview with CVS Pharmacy District Leader, Dr. Akash Patel said the initial supply of the combo shots (known as the bivalent shots to scientists) is expected to arrive in the coming days but in limited quantities. 

This comes on the heels of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the Food and Drug Administration approving the rollout of bivalent vaccines, which are said to specifically target different variants of the coronavirus. 

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Current COVID-19 vaccines match the virus strain that circulated in early 2020, and while those vaccinations still offer strong protection against serious illness or death, there’s little effectiveness from mutated strains like omicron. 

That's why in June, the FDA ordered vaccine makers to tweak their shots to target BA.4 and BA.5, becoming the bivalent shots. To approve it, the FDA heavily relied on scientific testing of previous vaccine tweaks instead of testing the BA.5-tweak’s effectiveness on humans, as it could take months. And that wait could heighten the risk of another, potentially stronger mutation.

In other words, authorities were taking a gamble on how effective the bivalent shot would be. And with respect to the ongoing discussion and uneasiness folks have about getting the vaccine, Dr. Patel said folks should still not be disheartened by that. 

"So I mean, the vaccine does provide immunity," he said. "There has been studies done prior during those studies, the FDA is fully involved, and they have authorized this and is very similar process that we see other vaccines such as the annual flu shot that is available right now as well." 


In fact, Dr. Patel noted now would be a good as time as any to get vaccinated for the influenza virus. 

"Right now is the time to get your flu shot," he said. "You know, we're right now we're approaching back to school. Right? We're getting into the Cold Flu season. So the CDC does recommend every patient every year to get the flu shot, and this is the right time to get it."

As for those who might have already gotten a COVID-19 booster, Dr. Patel said for patients to wait at least two months before getting the bivalent shots.  And if they're unsure, to contact their local pharmacist and when they try to book their shots, their pre-screening will assure if it's the right time. 

"If they just completed their primary series, we would wait at least two months for them to get the booster shots," he said. "When they scheduled their vaccine on our app, or as well as our website, it asks these questions and does a pre-screening to make sure that the patient signs up for the right vaccine, as well as for the right time as well."

To learn more about the bivalent vaccine and book an appointment with CVS, click here.