‘Bivalent’ COVID-19 boosters now available through healthcare providers

Minnesota healthcare providers will soon be able to administer new COVID-19 booster shots that have been formulated to be more effective against the Omicron variants, according to a Minnesota Department of Health announcement.

Authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Thursday, the bivalent boosters – one from Pfizer and one from Moderna – are expected to begin shipping immediately.

"This new booster represents another step forward in fighting COVID-19," said Governor Walz in a statement. "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 announcement, providers are expected to start taking appointments once they receive doses and have reviewed CDC recommendations.

A vaccination site at the Mall of America will begin administering doses on Sept. 7. Sites in Duluth, St. Paul Midway, Rochester and Moorhead will begin administering them the following week by appointment only. Boosters will be free for all Minnesotans at both state and private sites regardless of insurance status.  

"Staying up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines is a crucial part of protecting our state in the months ahead," said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm in a statement. "The bivalent boosters were shown to be safe and effective, and they will be a key tool in helping provide better protection against variants that are currently spreading." 

The Pfizer bivalent booster vaccine is recommended for people 12 and older. The Moderna bivalent booster vaccine is recommended for people 18 and older. Both vaccines can be given two months after a primary vaccine series or booster vaccination. The bivalent vaccines can only be used for a single booster dose.