New COVID-19 booster vaccines expected to be available in Fairfax County this week

Fairfax Health District COVID-19 cases over the past 26 weeks, as of Sept. 6, 2022 (via VDH)

Most booster shots against COVID-19 were put on hold over Labor Day weekend, as Fairfax County prepares for newly authorized vaccines designed to target omicron variants of the coronavirus.

Appointments for the updated boosters are expected to be available through the county’s Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS) by tomorrow (Wednesday), the Fairfax County Health Department confirmed to FFXnow.

Known as bivalent vaccines, the new shots from Pfizer and Moderna contain the original strain of COVID-19 as well as a component that can be found in the two most dominant omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5, according to the Food and Drug Administration, which authorized the vaccines on Aug. 31.

As a result, the updated boosters will “provide better protection against COVID-19 caused by the omicron variant,” the FDA said.

However, as part of the new authorization, the emergency use authorizations for the existing Pfizer and Moderna boosters were suspended on Friday (Sept. 2). Both vaccines can still be used for the primary two-dose regimen, and the Pfizer vaccine can be used as a booster for kids aged 5 through 11.

For people 12 and older, though, the county health department ceased administering booster doses at its offices and clinic sites on Friday.

“We had a handful of booster appointments set for the past weekend and our Call Center team contacted these individuals to let them know that they could re-schedule appointments when the bivalent boosters arrived,” FCHD spokesperson Lucy Caldwell said.

The health department has ordered 12,900 Pfizer bivalent vaccines and 8,100 Moderna shots and “plans to begin vaccinating this week,” according to Caldwell.

Pfizer’s vaccine has been authorized for people aged 12 and older, and Moderna’s is for adults 18 and up. Eligibility for the doses begins at least two months after getting the primary vaccinations or the most recent booster.

Appointments for the updated boosters won’t be required, but they are recommended, given the limited initial supply. Shots will eventually become available at private medical offices, pharmacies and other locations in the community.

“We thank everyone for their patience,” Caldwell said.

The FDA also issued an emergency use authorization last week allowing adolescents aged 12 to 17 to get the Novavax Covid vaccine, which became available to adults last month. Regardless of age, everyone is still required to make an appointment to get that vaccine, since supplies are limited.

Fairfax Health District COVID-19 booster vaccinations by age group, as of Sept. 6, 2022 (via Fairfax County Health Department)

In the Fairfax Health District, which includes the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, 85.4% of residents — 1,010,704 people — have gotten at least one Covid vaccine dose, including:

  • 92.9% of people 18 and older
  • 99.4% of 16-17 year olds
  • 95.7% of 12-15 year olds
  • 62.9% of 5-11 year olds
  • 15.5% of kids aged 6 months to 4 years

About 77.6% of the population, or 918,330 residents, is considered fully vaccinated, including 85.4% of adults.

On the decline since mid-July, COVID-19 cases in the district leveled off last week before a sharp dip over this past three-day weekend, Virginia Department of Health data shows.

With 143 new cases reported today (Tuesday), the district is averaging 199 cases per day for the past week. This is the first time the seven-day average has dropped below 200 cases since April 14.

All Fairfax Health District COVID-19 cases, as of Sept. 6, 2022 (via VDH)

Fairfax County’s community level remains low based on rates of 132.5 cases and 4.5 new patients per 100,000 residents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hospitalizations decreased last week, with 4% of staffed, inpatient beds occupied by Covid patients, as of Aug. 31.

The Fairfax Health District has recorded 237,226 cases, 4,908 hospitalizations, and 1,614 deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic.