Lots of patients who are eligible for a COVID-19 bivalent booster aren’t current with vaccination.
About 70% of the US population completed the primary series...but only 16% have received a bivalent booster.
It’s partly because some patients think they’re immune...don’t know they’re eligible...are concerned about side effects...etc.
But COVID-19 infection is still leading to thousands of new hospitalizations and hundreds of deaths daily.
And adults who’ve had a bivalent booster have a lower risk of urgent care visits and hospitalizations than those who haven’t.
Continue to help identify patients who may need a booster by asking about vaccines, reviewing immunization histories, etc.
Also catch patients up when dispensing other routine vaccines (Tdap, etc)...any COVID-19 vaccine can be given at the same visit.
Keep in mind that a bivalent COVID-19 booster is recommended for patients 6 months and up who’ve completed their primary series with monovalent vaccines.
For now, don’t dispense more than one bivalent booster to any patient...even if they’re over 65 or have a weakened immune system. There’s not enough evidence of benefit yet. But expect FDA and CDC to reassess this soon.
Involve your pharmacist to address concerns or misconceptions.
For example, patients may hear about a possible stroke risk with the Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent booster that surfaced in one safety monitoring system. But it didn’t pan out in other databases or countries.
Plus acute COVID-19 infection is linked to higher risk of stroke.
Later this year, expect to see bivalent vaccines for the primary series...an annual booster...and fewer vaccines to limit errors.
Be aware that combo flu and COVID-19 vaccines are in the works...but won’t likely be ready this year.
Anticipate that COVID-19 vaccine costs will eventually shift to payers...and billing and co-pays will be similar to flu vaccines.
Compare products with our COVID-19 Vaccines resource.
Pharmacy Technician's Letter. April 2023, No. 390408