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Epidemiologist says Hoosiers should get bivalent vaccines before winter

A gloved vaccine provider places a bandage on the arm of a person receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. The person receiving the vaccine is wearing a mask that has slipped below their nose as they push up the sleeve of their shirt.
FILE PHOTO: Justin Hicks
IPB News
Bivalent vaccines target two different strains of the same virus. The COVID-19 vaccines target both the original strain and the newer omicron variant.

What is a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine? Epidemiologists in Indiana recommend Hoosiers get bivalent COVID-19 vaccines before winter.

Bivalent vaccines target two different strains of the same virus. The COVID-19 vaccines target both the original strain and the newer omicron variant.

“The two of those combined provide protection from the older strains, plus it provides some updated protection from the new omicron variants,” said Dr. Scott Stienecker.

Stienecker is an epidemiologist for the Society for Professional Healthcare Epidemiologists of America and is based in Fort Wayne.

He said everyone who is eligible should get a bivalent dose. And he said you might consider switching up which version of the vaccine you get. For example, if you’ve gotten all Pfizer vaccines, consider the Moderna booster.

“It’s been shown that those vaccines have some complementary effects in terms of boosting the immune system,” he said.

Stienecker said it’s an extremely safe vaccine that’s well-tolerated – most people experience tiredness, fever, and a sore, sometimes itchy arm that goes away within a few days. And serious reactions are rare.

READ MORE: Indiana's online map now includes COVID-19 vaccine sites with new booster

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A small group of people experienced myocarditis and pericarditis – inflammation in heart muscle and surrounding tissue – following COVID-19 vaccines, which mostly resolved within 90 days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“I would point out that the myocarditis from the real [COVID-19] infection is anywhere from six to 10 times more than that that might be caused by the vaccine,” Stienecker said.

The bivalent vaccines are available to Hoosiers two months after their original series or booster dose. And for Hoosiers ages 18 and older for Moderna and 12 and older for Pfizer.

To find a bivalent vaccine provider near you, go to OurShot.IN.gov.

Contact Lauren at lchapman@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @laurenechapman_.

Lauren is the digital editor for our statewide collaboration, and is based in Indianapolis at WFYI. Since starting for IPB News in 2016, she's covered everything from protests and COVID-19 to esports and policy. She's a proud Ball State University alumna and grew up on the west side of Indianapolis.