Johnson Countians now able to receive ‘bivalent’ COVID-19 boosters

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Starting Monday, the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment will offer new bivalent COVID-19 booster shots. Why it matters: Health officials say the new boosters specifically provide protection against

Starting Monday, the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment will offer new bivalent COVID-19 booster shots.

Why it matters: Health officials say the new boosters specifically provide protection against the most latest COVID-19 variants.

  • The bivalent COVID-19 boosters still include components that protect against the original virus strain, but they also contain components that provide protection against the latest Omicron variants.
  • Nationwide vaccination rates have slowed overall since the first COVID-19 booster became available in 2021.
  • However, early numbers show an enthusiastic response to the new booster’s availability — with roughly 397,000 shots already administered in California and roughly 137,900 already administered in Illinois.

Local context: The Omicron BA.5 subvariant became the most common strain in positive cases in Johnson County this summer and is known to be more transmissible but generally less severe in symptoms.

  • COVID-19 cases across the Kansas City metro appeared to be on a downward trend at the end of last week, with the number of new cases in Kansas City going down from 1,769 to 1,554 in a week.
  • The most recent county data indicates Johnson County has a current COVID-19 incidence rate of 97 cases — making a positivity rate of 16.5% for the past seven days.
  • However, local health officials have argued that true case numbers could be higher than official data shows, due to under-reported at-home testing.

Who is eligible? The Pfizer bivalent booster is available to people who are 12 years old and older while the Moderna bivalent booster is available to people who are 18 years old and older.

  • Anyone who wants to receive the bivalent booster needs to have had both primary doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at least two months ago.
  • The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment is not yet giving boosters to people who recently received the Novavax vaccine.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially endorsed these new boosters Sept. 1. At that time, the Food and Drug removed authorization for the original monovalent boosters for people of ages 12 and older.

Where can people get them? Johnson Countians can get vaccinated with the new boosters at the county health department’s walk-in clinics at 11875 S. Sunset Drive in Olathe and at 6000 Lamar Ave. in Mission.

  • The Olathe walk-in clinic is open for immunizations from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 8 a.m. to noon Friday.
  • The Mission walk-in clinic is open for immunizations from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
  • People receiving the boosters do not have to bring their COVID-19 vaccine cards with them.
  • You can also enter your zip code on vaccines.gov to find booster availability through other providers, such as physician offices and pharmacies.

Key quote: “As cases of COVID-19 variants continue to circulate in Johnson County and around the country, the bivalent booster dose will provide an extra layer of protection for individuals from severe disease, hospitalization and the long-term effects of COVID-19,” said Sanmi Areola, director of the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment.