GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Updated versions of the COVID-19 vaccine are starting to become available in West Michigan.
The Kent County Health Department is expecting its first shipment any day. Amy Shears, the vaccine coordinator, says if it has been at least two months since your last dose and you meet age requirements for the new doses, you qualify to get another shot.
“The Pfizer product … is approved for 12 years and older for one booster dose and then there’s the Moderna product that is approved right now for 18 and older,” Shears said.
If you had COVID-19 recently, you can get this booster if you have recovered.
Dr. Richard Van Enk, the director of infection prevention and epidemiology at Bronson Healthcare, says getting vaccinated and staying current is important with an ever-changing virus.
“Most of the people that have had their boosters had them quite a while ago,” Van Enk Said. “This is basically an update of the vaccine that people got before. So the closest analogy to it is flu shots: Every year, we get a new flu shot.”
Data is still being collected but Van Enk said in the laboratory setting and through trials, this version looks the most promising against the current dominant variants.
The shot is available for free. The Kalamazoo County Health Department says funding and resources are in place at the local level to administer it. Health Officer Jim Rutherford hopes the updated vaccine coming before the cold and flu season can keep the number of severe cases down.
“People are still getting sick. We’re not getting any indicators from our health system in Kalamazoo County that they’re struggling in (keeping up with the number of patients) so we want to just be able to keep it that way,” Rutherford said.
Doctors are expecting an updated version of the vaccine for younger children to be released soon but do not yet know when they will be available.