In April 2023, the FDA and CDC approved new updates for the COVID-19 vaccines that have important relevance for Fred Hutch patients. CDC’s new recommendations allow an additional updated (bivalent) vaccine dose for adults ages 65+ and additional doses for people who are immunocompromised. Fred Hutch will offer a limited number of vaccine slots on Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. each week for patients to receive the booster at the South Lake Union Clinic.
The bivalent vaccine is readily available in the community. To find a vaccine provider in your community or to get the bivalent booster:
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It is strongly recommended, but not required that all people who enter Fred Hutch, including staff, patients, family members, caregivers and others, wear medical grade masks, such as surgical, KN95 and N95 masks while in the clinic. Surgical masks are available at the front door if you would like one.
Masks are required in certain situations:
Calling ahead is an important step in keeping everyone safe. If you come to the clinic without calling us for any of the reasons above, we may reschedule your appointment, treatment or procedure or move you to a telehealth visit.
We continue to offer the flu vaccine to patients and caregivers. Please tell your care team if you’d like to schedule a flu vaccine appointment.
On May 25, 2023, the FDA approved Paxlovid for use in adults with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 and who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death. Children ages 12-17 are still eligible for Paxlovid under the Emergency Use Authorization.
The federal government will continue to distribute Paxlovid supply at no cost to patients.
Call 1.833.VAX.HELP (833.829.4357), then press #. Language assistance is available.
You can also text your zip code to 438.829 (GET VAX) or 822.862 (VACUNA) for vaccine locations near you.
The updated booster is bivalent, meaning it is designed to boost immunity against both the original SARS-CoV-2 strain and the newer BA.4 and BA.5 omicron variants.
The monovalent boosters are no longer authorized by the CDC or FDA.
At this time, Fred Hutch is not able to provide the updated booster to patients. We encourage you to find a local COVID-19 vaccine site near you by visiting the Washington State Department of Health’s vaccine locations webpage
or visit vaccines.gov.
Yes. Regardless of which primary vaccine you received, everyone is eligible for the new bivalent boosters. Those who have recently had a booster vaccine should wait two months after their most recent dose before getting the updated booster. You can receive either the Moderna or Pfizer bivalent booster, regardless of the manufacturer of your prior vaccinations.
People with known current SARS-CoV-2 infection should defer any COVID-19 vaccination, including booster vaccination, at least until recovery from the acute illness (if symptoms were present) and criteria to discontinue isolation have been met.
In addition, people who recently had SARS-CoV-2 infection may consider delaying a primary series dose or booster dose by 3 months from symptom onset or positive test (if infection was asymptomatic). Studies have shown that increased time between infection and vaccination may result in an improved immune response to vaccination. Additionally, a low risk of reinfection has been observed in the weeks to months following infection.
Individual factors such as risk of COVID-19 severe disease, COVID-19 community level, or characteristics of the predominant SARS-CoV-2 strain should be taken into account when determining whether to delay getting a COVID-19 vaccination after infection.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the CDC director have approved updated COVID-19 boosters from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna for emergency use.
The Pfizer-BioNTech booster is available to people ages 12 and older who have:
The Moderna booster is available to people ages 18 and older meeting the same criteria.
Boosters are recommended for those who are immunocompromised, such as cancer patients, as data show that boosting is important for protection from COVID-19 complications.
Those who are immunosuppressed can receive the updated booster in addition to following the previous recommendation and approval receiving the initial vaccine series and two boosters, for a total of three boosters.
Refer to the CDC’s guidance for people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised for more information.
Visit the CDC’s visual graphic of vaccine schedules for easy reference.
No. Reactions to the mRNA bivalent vaccines in studies using the BA.1 omicron strain were similar to the side effect profile of the mRNA monovalent vaccines.
The updated booster is now a bivalent booster, which targets both the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 and the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron variants. The previous boosters were additional doses of the original — monovalent — mRNA vaccine.
The bivalent booster contains both the original mRNA vaccine and mRNA targeting a BA.4 and BA.5 omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 viruses that are currently circulating. Since there have been such major changes in the recent omicron variant SARS-CoV-2 viruses, they have been better at escaping vaccine-induced immunity. In studies of bivalent vaccines, immune responses — or antibody levels — were improved to the bivalent booster. In addition, it appears that those boosted with a bivalent vaccine retain antibody levels for longer.
No. Previously, although the initial series of the vaccine was fully approved by the FDA, monovalent boosters were only authorized for emergency use. The FDA has removed the authorization for the monovalent original mRNA vaccine to be given as a booster. The bivalent booster is currently the only booster authorized for use by the FDA.
As of November 30, 2022, the COVID-19 primary monovalent vaccine series will be available for all patients every Wednesday from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm at the South Lake Union Clinic. Please contact your care team if you are a Fred Hutch patient looking to schedule your primary series of the COVID-19 vaccine.
To find a vaccine provider in your community or to get the bivalent booster:
Flu vaccine: We will provide flu vaccinations to patients and caregivers starting October 3. Patients will be able to get their flu vaccine during appointments at all clinical sites. Caregivers may get their vaccine while accompanying a patient to an appointment at all clinical sites.
Yes. The CDC has indicated that it is safe and effective to get the flu vaccine and updated bivalent booster at the same time. It is recommended that one be given in each arm.
Immune responses wane over time after vaccination with a primary series (2 in immununocompetent people, and 3 in immunocompromised people). The circulating omicron variants require higher levels of antibody to protect against major complications of COVID-19. Boosters help to improve antibody levels and have been shown to be more effective at preventing hospitalization and death due to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Boosters are currently recommended for anyone who has received a primary series of Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax or Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Yes and no. The bivalent booster includes the original mRNA monovalent vaccine, which is approved. The new variant included in the updated booster has only been studied in mouse models aimed at understanding immune responses to the vaccine. However, a previous bivalent booster which included a prior omicron strain, BA.1, was studied in humans and found to be safe and effective. As BA.4 and BA.5 became the primary circulating variants, the FDA recommended the booster be updated. With the prior human study with a different but related bivalent vaccine booster and data from animal models which show this vaccine improves the immune response, it is believed that this is the best booster vaccine.
This is a similar approach we take to updated influenza vaccines. Animal models are used to help predict use in humans when the FDA approves updated seasonal influenza vaccines. This is done because of the need to rapidly produce vaccines for influenza. If human studies were required every year, it would slow down the process of making vaccines available.
We expect that updated boosters might be needed to target changes in circulating variants in the future, similar to influenza vaccines. But currently it isn’t clear if updated boosters will be needed.