PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) — Children ages 5-11 in Oregon are now eligible for the new updated bivalent booster, Oregon Health Authority announced Thursday.
OHA also gave a summary of the latest COVID-19 data and trends and the status of the ongoing response to monkeypox (hMPXV) in Oregon.
“Yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expanded Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of COVID-19 vaccine boosters for children 5-11,” said Dean Sidelinger, M.D. M.S.Ed., health officer and state epidemiologist at OHA. “The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup met last night and affirmed the new eligibility recommendations.”
The workgroup noted that “the benefits of bivalent booster doses that more closely match currently circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants will sustain protection against COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths in young children and substantially outweigh any potential risks.”
The expanded EUA of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Modern bivalent boosters for younger ages, and the state and federal recommendations for their use, mean an estimated 343,000 more people in Oregon, between ages 5-11, are now eligible to receive a booster dose at least two months after finishing a primary series or prior monovalent booster dose.
The updated COVID-19 boosters add the genetic recipe for the omicron BA.4 and BA.5 spike protein components to the original vaccines, offering updated protection that has waned in the general population and targeting the highly transmissible omicron variants that have become the predominant strains in Oregon and the United States.
More than 259,000 bivalent boosters have been administered statewide by OHA clinics, Tribal and public health partners, pharmacies and health care providers, Sidelinger said. Data from the state’s vaccine registry show that 6.1% of all people in Oregon have received the new bivalent booster compared to 3.5% nationwide.
“Updated boosters, now available for everyone in Oregon five years and older, are our best protection as we move into the fall and winter, as respiratory viruses like COVID-19 typically spread at higher rates,” he said. “Adding a flu shot to your appointment with your doctor or pharmacist will also help protect as we move into the fall.”
Sidelinger also highlighted progress to control the spread of monkeypox (hMPXV) in Oregon.
“As we look to a brighter future in our COVID-19 response — with people in Oregon continuing to get the bivalent boosters and the availability of boosters for children 11 and younger — we are feeling similarly optimistic about monkeypox,” he said.
Sidelinger reported that as of Wednesday, there were 230 presumptive and confirmed cases of monkeypox in Oregon, with cases in nine counties: 11 in Clackamas, two in Columbia, one in Coos, one in Hood River, 22 in Lane, eight in Marion, 157 in Multnomah, one in Union and 27 in Washington.
“We still have a tremendous amount of work to do to ensure that individuals from communities of color receive vaccines at higher rates — as they, unfortunately, are more impacted in this outbreak,” Sidelinger added.
OHA encourages everyone interested in receiving the new COVID-19 booster to check with their provider to see when the booster is available, or check the OHA COVID-19 blog or the Get Vaccinated Oregon site for locations around the state.