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Minnesota to start offering updated COVID boosters

Doses of the new boosters are being shipped and providers are expected to start taking appointments next week.

ST PAUL, Minn. — New COVID-19 booster shots that target the most common omicron strains will be available to Minnesotans starting next week.

The two bivalent boosters, which were endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration earlier this week, will be available to all adults. The Pfizer-BioNTech booster has been approved for people 12 and older, while only adults (18 and older) can currently get the Moderna booster.

According to Gov. Tim Walz's office, doses of the new boosters are being shipped and providers are expected to start taking appointments next week. The Mall of America will be providing both shots starting Wednesday, Sept. 7 by appointment. The St. Paul Midway, Duluth, Rochester and Moorhead vaccination sites are expected to be offering the boosters the following week, according to Gov. Tim Walz's office.

“This new booster represents another step forward in fighting COVID-19,” said Gov. Walz in a press release. “This variant-specific formula will play an important role in helping keep Minnesotans safe this fall – especially when paired with testing and therapeutics.”

According to the Associated Press, the updated shots give Americans the most up-to-date protection, calling it a combination or “bivalent” shots — half the original vaccine and half protection against the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron versions now causing nearly all COVID-19 infections. 

“I think they’re going to be an effective tool for disease prevention this fall and into the winter,” CDC adviser Dr. Matthew Daley of Kaiser Permanente Colorado to the AP.

The original COVID-19 vaccines still offer strong protection against severe illness and death, especially among younger and healthier people who’ve gotten at least one booster.

But those vaccines were designed to target the virus strain that circulated in early 2020. Effectiveness drops as new mutants emerge and more time passes since someone’s last shot. Since April, hospitalization rates in people over age 65 have jumped, the CDC said.

Several CDC advisers said that to get the maximum benefit, people will need to wait longer between their last vaccination and the new booster than the two-month minimum set by the FDA. Waiting at least three months would be better, they said.

For more information about the two shots or to schedule an appointment, visit the Minnesota Department of Health's website.

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