Kofi Nsiah waits for 15 minutes after getting the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in April 2021. Yehyun Kim / ctmirror.org

Nearly 43,000 CT residents got the new COVID-19 vaccine booster last week. The state is now on its second week of distributing the new bivalent boosters.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced on Aug. 31 that the new COVID-19 vaccine booster would be rolled out to the public. States are expected to slowly start receiving the new booster.

Here are some answers to questions CT residents may have. 

Who is eligible?

On Sept. 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that people get the new booster if they are able and eligible.

Those eligible to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are 12 and older. The Moderna vaccine is for people 18 and older. 

Hartford HealthCare has an interactive tool on its website to determine one’s eligibility. 

In a few weeks, the CDC will also start recommending this new booster to younger age groups.

What is the difference between this booster and the others?

As the CDC sees spikes in different sub-variant cases, new boosters will be introduced to reduce or prevent illness from these new strains. 

This CDC says the booster adds Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 spike protein components to the current vaccine composition in order to fight these new variants. 

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The COVID-19 strands targeted for this booster have been described by doctors as more “transmissible and immune-evading” than others.

How many doses of the new booster has CT received?

The Department of Public Health said the state ordered about 200,000 doses of the bivalent boosters. 

The state is expected to receive more doses in the next couple of weeks. 

How many CT residents have received the new booster?

According to a Sept. 15 press release from Gov. Ned Lamont, 43,618 residents received the booster in its first few days of availability.

Is the new booster necessary? 

The FDA and CDC recommend the booster for anyone who is eligible. 

Chris Boyle, director of communications at the Department of Public Health, said that even though the state has fewer COVID cases than it did this time last year, residents should still consider getting the new booster.

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“With the start of the new school year and the onset of the fall season when people begin spending more time indoors, there is no better time to receive this extra level of protection, which targets these variants and prevents transmission of this virus,” Boyle said. 

In the last week, 9.9% of all COVID tests reported to the state were positive, but that number is not necessarily a good measure of the current spread of the disease, as at-home test results are not routinely reported.

The state also reported 14 COVID-associated deaths in the last week as well as 74 new hospitalizations, bringing the statewide total to 400.

How much does it cost?

The COVID-19 vaccine is free. No one is required to show ID or have health insurance to get a booster.

Where can I get the new booster?

Residents can contact their primary care doctor to get vaccinated or go to vaccines.gov to look for vaccination clinics.

Jessica is CT Mirror's Emma Bowen Foundation general assignment reporter for the 2022 / 2023 academic year. She is currently a senior at Central Connecticut State University pursuing her bachelor’s degree in journalism. She also works at her school’s newspaper, The Recorder, and peer mentored first-year undergraduates at Central. Jessica is a Connecticut native through and through.