Monday, September 12, 2022

AHN Kicks Off Administration of Updated Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 Boosters

Network’s Clinicians Also Encourage Annual Flu Shots as Season Quickly Approaches

PITTSBURGH – Allegheny Health Network (AHN) announced today it will launch the administration of the updated Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 boosters following emergency use authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in late August. The latest series of bivalent vaccinations has been updated to include spike proteins of BA.4 and BA.5, alongside original COVID-19 strains, to better protect against the most recent and highly transmissible Omicron variants.

AHN received updated booster doses last week and quickly mobilized to transfer shipments across its pediatric and primary care offices throughout western Pennsylvania. Those who wish to schedule an appointment for the updated booster or first vaccine may do so by calling 412-DOCTORS, contacting their AHN primary care physician or pediatrics’ office, or reaching out to their local retail pharmacy.

Eligible groups currently include all those over 12 and 18 years of age for Pfizer and Moderna, respectively, who have previously received a primary vaccination series. The CDC also recommends that patients wait at least two months since their last vaccine dose or 90 days from a recent COVID-19 infection to boost.

Both Pfizer and Moderna stated that outcomes reported from late clinical trials showed a dose of its reformulated bivalent vaccine elicited a superior immune response against the original BA.1 and BA.2 COVID-19 strains as well as the currently dominant Omicron variants, all with a favorable safety profile.

Consistent with previous recommendations, the CDC also allows for eligible individuals to opt into “mixing and matching” vaccine brands, stating that those fully immunized with one company’s vaccine, including Johnson & Johnson, may receive a different vaccine as a booster.

“These vaccination measures to maintain ongoing protection from severe illness and hospitalization due to COVID-19 are now becoming a fundamental component of our patient’s comprehensive wellness plan,” said Laura Mark, vice president of pharmacy at AHN. “Now that supply is adequate to meet demand, we encourage our patients to incorporate boosters into their routine visits with their respective physicians, quite similar to how they may approach their annual flu shot. However, it is still critical to underscore how important vaccine acceptance is as we approach the winter season and subsequently prepare for an increase in community spread and hospitalizations due to COVID infections.”

AHN anticipates receiving its annual shipment of this year’s influenza vaccine by the end of the month, as well, allowing clinicians to administer both doses simultaneously, at the patient’s request.  

Those receiving their booster may experience mostly mild to moderate symptoms which will often mimic the side effects originally felt during their primary series i.e. soreness at the injection site, fever, feeling of general malaise for one to two days, etc. For those who wish to receive their flu shot at the same time, these side effects may increase in severity.

“Since the start of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, AHN has worked tirelessly to provide protection for the majority of the population throughout the region,” continued Mark. “That work has created a solid foundation for our ongoing efforts and we look forward to carrying out this most recent vaccination milestone in a streamlined, steady state for both our providers and patients.”

For more information on how to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or booster at an AHN facility near you, please call 412-DOCTORS.


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