SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– As Americans all across the country are rolling up their sleeves to receive the newly authorized COVID-19 bivalent booster shot, some may be wondering if they should get it and why. 

Upstate Medical University’s Director of Global Health, Dr. Stephen Thomas says these new booster shots not only protect against the original strain that causes COVID-19 but also the more recent and highly contagious Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5. 

Moderna’s version of the new booster is available to anyone 18 years of age and older and those 12 years of age and older are eligible for Pfizer’s version. The new boosters can only be given to people who have already completed the primary series and must be given at least two months after the last dose in the series or two months after your last booster. 

Dr. Thomas is encouraging everyone to get the new COVID booster shots as they provide more protection to the dominant variants circulating in the US. He says the shots are especially important for more at-risk groups such as the elderly population and those with compromised immune systems. 

“People who are not in those high-risk categories, that can be a more nuanced decision, right? I love vaccines, I think they, they’re one of the most important things we’ve ever developed for medicine, but they have to be the decision to get them is made in the context of what is going on currently,”

Dr. Stephen Thomas, Upstate’s Global Health Director

Currently, Dr. Thomas says New York is in a pretty good place thanks to the state’s higher than average vaccination and booster rate. In particular, he says Central New York has another layer of protection because we were the epicenter for the Omicron variant BA.2.12.1 when it swept through the region earlier this year. 

However, with the holidays and colder temperatures approaching, Dr. Thomas says it’s important to act now to get these latest boosters in arms. 

“If there’s high uptake of these Omicron specific variants, these BA 4, 5 specific variants if we can have a high uptick of boosters with those then I think we’re in a position to have the best fall and winter that we’ve had in I guess two years now.”

Dr. Stephen Thomas, Upstate’s Global Health Director

For a full list of places offering the newest booster shot, including county-specific booster clinics, click here