Breaking News
More () »

Updated COVID boosters to be available soon in West Michigan

Kent and Ottawa counties have placed their orders for the vaccine doses, awaiting arrival likely sometime this week.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — This week, the updated COVID-19 booster shots are rolling out across the country.

The shot is a bivalent vaccine. That means it targets both the original strain and the omicron variants.

Both Kent and Ottawa Public Health Departments have ordered doses of the booster for administration, but are awaiting shipments. Those should arrive sometime this week. 

Once arrived, the health departments will begin taking appointments.

Spectrum Health says they will begin administering boosters starting September 15. 

"This booster should be considered because it is going to contain those variants that the CDC are seeing spread so much more recently," said Amy Shears, immunization program supervisor with the Kent County Health Department (KCHD). "Going into some of these colder months, we start congregating inside and such. We really want to keep everybody that's vulnerable protected and out of the hospital."

For KCHD, they will announce when they receive their shipment of doses and are ready to administer. Then, anyone interested can call the health department to schedule their booster at 616-632-7200.

Doctor's offices and pharmacies will also soon have doses of the booster. 

"Pretty much everyone you've seen administering the vaccine up until now" will have them, according to Shears. 

The Pfizer-BioNTech booster is available for anyone 12 years and older. The Moderna booster is available to those 18 and older. Both require at least two months since their last vaccination. 

The new booster targets both omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5. 

Doctors say there is no reason to wait until cooler months to get the booster. 

"I think it's important to remember that we still have about 60 to 70 COVID patients admitted to the Spectrum Health hospitals at any given time," said Dr. Russ Lampen, adult infectious disease expert at Spectrum Health, "Which is, in some ways, equivalent to what we often operate with during an influenza season. Even if we have a mild influenza season, if we add that on to what is our becoming our baseline COVID infections that are admitted to the hospital, that is going to continue to put some strain on our on our operations."

Shears recommends getting the updated COVID booster along with a flu shot this year. 

For now, children younger than 12 are not authorized for this current booster. 

"We anticipate that the boosters will be going to FDA for authorization for our younger kids sometime this fall," said Dr. Rosemary Olivero, pediatric infectious disease doctor at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, "We're just not there yet."

RELATED VIDEO: Kent County's 'Vaccine Queen' to retire

Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.

Have a news tip? Email news@13onyourside.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter. Subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Before You Leave, Check This Out