HONOLULU (KHON2) — The updated booster targets both the original virus as well as the omicron variants and is expected to be available to most folks two months after their last shot.

KHON2 spoke to the Hawaii State Department of Health to hear the plans for doses on the islands.

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Health officials said the authorization of bivalent vaccines is a pivotal moment in the pandemic.

“These new bivalent vaccines are specifically designed to give us protection from both original COVID and the new sub-variants of the omicron variant, in particular, BA.4 and BA.5,” HDOH spokesman Brooks Baehr said, “BA.5 is by far the dominant strain in Hawaii right now. More than 91% of COVID here in the Islands, according to our latest variant report, is from the BA.5 subvariant.”

The CDC’s advisory committee will meet on Thursday, Sept. 1 and Friday, Sept. 2.
Pfizer’s bivalent doses are expected to be recommended to those 12 and older while Moderna’s are expected to be recommended to those 18 and older, according to the DOH, as long as they have waited two months since their last dose.

“Whether it’s you got your second, the second shot in your initial or primary series two months ago, or whether you got your first or second booster more than two months ago, you would be eligible to go get yourself one of these bivalent boosters.”

Brooks Baehr, Hawaii Health Department spokesman

The DOH has pre-ordered 37,800 bivalent doses and said they should be ready to go by Tuesday, Sept. 6. Pharmacies and community health centers will also be able to order their own supply.

The Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center is hopeful the new doses will be better at stopping infection than the original vaccines.

“They’re not so great anymore, preventing infection,” WCCHC epidemiologist Jacob Schafer said of the initial vaccines and boosters, “specifically with these new omicron variants, specifically BA.4 and BA.5”

“So, hopefully with these new boosters, there will be less people getting infected with COVID and we can get some people back to work quicker.”

Jacob Schafer, Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center epidemiologist

Officials suggest patients should postpone their appointments if they are about to get the old booster.

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“If you’ve got a scheduled appointment to go get yourself your first or second booster with either Pfizer or Modera, you know, tomorrow, hold on,” Baehr said. “You don’t want to get that monovalent booster shot. You want to wait for the new bivalent to come in because it’s going to give you that added protection.”