Norton to offer COVID-19 bivalent booster to children 5 and older starting Monday
Children 5 and older will be able to get the bivalent COVID-19 booster at Norton Children’s locations beginning Monday.
The FDA and CDC approved the use of Pfizer’s updated COVID-19booster for children 5 to 11 years old on Oct. 12.
“We have it, and we distributed it to all of our Norton Children’s medical group locations as well as Norton Prompt Care at Walgreens locations,” said Carrie Regnier, Norton Healthcare’s COVID-19 director.
The bivalent booster, both from Pfizer and Moderna, was approved for use for adults earlier this year.
Regnier said the monovalent booster will no longer be available for families.
“When the FDA approved the bivalent booster, they actually took away the authorization for the monovalent or original booster that we’ve had available,” Regnier said.
Dr. Kristina Bryant, with Norton Children’s Infectious Diseases, said the updated booster will provide more protection than its monovalent predecessor.
“Families should think of this as the new improved booster,” Bryant said. “The bivalent provides protection against the original strain of COVID, and it also protects against variants that are circulating in our community right now.”
The omicron subvariant BA.5 is the most prevalent strain of COVID-19 in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other omicron subvariants make up a majority of other cases.
Bryant said vaccines are one of the most effective ways for people to protect themselves and their communities.
“Kids who are vaccinated tend to have lower hospitalization rates, they’re much less likely to have severe consequences of COVID. We know that there have been children who have died of COVID,” Bryant said.
Bryant said children who have been vaccinated are less likely to experience long COVID symptoms.
She added that vaccines are important, even for those who have already contracted COVID-19, because natural immunity can wane or fail to protect against different variants of the virus.
Healthcare professionals are also encouraging guardians to sign their children up for flu shots alongside the booster.
There have been growing concerns about a possible “twindemic”, meaning a simultaneous surge of COVID-19 and the flu.
Now, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is spiking among younger populations. There is no vaccine to protect against RSV.
“We need to protect children from the viruses that we can,” Bryant. “Both for their own health and also just thinking we don’t want surges of RSV and COVID and flu at the same time.”
Less than 30% of Kentuckians have received their COVID-19 booster, according to data from Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
Norton officials hope that by offering the bivalent vaccine at partner pediatrician offices, more people will be open to getting their children scheduled for a booster.
“Families have told us, really from the beginning, that they’re used to getting vaccines in the pediatrician's office. They trust their pediatrician,” Bryant said.