An omicron-specific COVID-19 booster? What you need to know

You may have seen in the news that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently authorized a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine booster. What does this mean and when can employees get vaccinated? Chief Pharmacy Officer Mike Brownlee, PharmD, MS, fills us in.

Mike Brownlee, chief pharmacy officer, is in a headshot wearing a suit and tie.

Mike Brownlee, PharmD, MS, chief pharmacy officer for UI Hospitals & Clinics

What does it mean that the FDA authorized a bivalent COVID-19 booster?

“This bivalent booster means it will protect against two strains of the COVID-19 virus: the original virus strain and the omicron variants. You’ll sometimes hear people call this an ‘omicron booster.’ Omicron has been the most contagious variant we’ve dealt with so far, so having this additional protection could help continue to slow the spread of the virus.”

What needs to happen before vaccinations with this new booster can begin?

“Although these COVID-19 omicron boosters have been authorized by the CDC and FDA, there are a few more steps to work through before UI Health Care can begin providing these boosters to patients. We are working quickly to operationalize our efforts to best serve our employees, patients, and our community.”

Will UI Health Care offer this new booster to employees and patients?

“Yes, but we’re going to ask for your patience through the roll-out process. Like earlier in the pandemic, there are a lot of people wanting to get vaccinated and a limited supply of the updated booster dose. We’ve requested enough doses from the state to cover all those who we expect to want a booster, but initially we’ll receive a limited quantity. Getting a dose to everyone who wants to be boosted will take time, but we’re committed to making it as easy as possible for our team to be vaccinated. If you can receive the booster quicker in the community through a pharmacy like CVS or Hy-Vee, go ahead.

And, since we’re not far out from flu season, keep in mind that you’ll want to receive your flu vaccination this fall as well. More information about this year’s campaign will be available soon on The Loop.”


    • Beverly, at this time we are planning to offer both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 boosters as supply allows.

  1. If we can get the booster elsewhere, should we move forward with that option, since the boosters are in limited supply?

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