Hartford HealthCare has received new COVID-19 vaccines that target Omicron variants – a development that experts say could help limit surges this fall and winter.

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Will it work?

Hartford HealthCare Chief Epidemiologist Ulysses Wu, MD, said the new vaccines will help, but COVID fatigue and vaccine fatigue is a real issue.

“There will be an initial uptake and then a steep drop-off (of those getting vaccinated),” Wu said. “The vaccines will help, but not enough people will get vaccinated to really make that huge of a dent in the overall numbers. We will still have a surge around late October-February.”

Despite warm temperatures and people spending more time outdoors, the pandemic continues to grip the nation. Connecticut’s positivity rate stands at 9.6% – with 2,991 positive cases in the past seven days and 321 people hospitalized.

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What’s new?

The new shot is designed to protect against the BA4 and BA5 Omicron variants, which have helped fuel the pandemic this summer, as well as the original strain.

Hartford Healthcare Central Region Chief of Infectious Disease Henry Anyimadu, MD, said the new shot is referred to as “bivalent,” which means it has components of the original COVID strain and two omicron subvariants, which includes the current dominant strain.

“The goal is combining this will increase protection against the omicron variant,” Anyimadu said

In the meantime, the original Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have been discontinued.

Who is eligible for what?

  • The government says the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for use as a single booster dose in people 18 and older.
  • The Pfizer-BioNTech booster is authorized for people 12 years and up.

“It’s very important we get these boosters because…the fall is going to be a horrible one for COVID. So we better be prepared,” Anyimadu said.