Booster against latest COVID-19 variant arrives in Tulsa County

TULSA, Okla. — A new vaccine booster to protect you against the latest variant of COVID-19 is now available in Tulsa County.

Health department experts say it’s similar to the reason why we have to get a new flu shot each year—the virus morphs and changes over time, and in order to still be protected against it, you periodically need to get an “updated” vaccine to match the “updated” form of the virus.

That’s why as of Monday, the Tulsa Health Department is now offering new bivalent COVID-19 vaccine boosters that not only protect against the previous variants of the virus, but also against the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants—which are the most common strains around today and have led to an increase in cases the past couple months.

Officials at the health department say they’re already seeing demand rise for this new booster.

They say the new booster is recommended for everyone 12 and up. The only requirements to get it are that you’ve had your initial round of COVID vaccines, and if you’ve had a booster, it’s been at least two months since you last got one.

Experts told FOX23 it may seem like we’ve all had a bit of vaccine fatigue. With the initial COVID vaccines first being recommended, then a number of boosters being recommended, and now this one—it’s all for a very important purpose.

Ellen Niemitalo, Manager of Immunizations for the Tulsa Health Department told FOX23 following these recommendations and getting the most up-to-date vaccine is your best way to reduce your risk of infection as the virus continually changes.

“The COVID virus has proved to be very resilient,” Niemitalo said. “And it does keep shifting and modifying and making these new variants and new strains that continue to infect people. So the vaccine needs to make some of those same changes just to reflect what the virus is doing.”

Niemitalo said the Tulsa Health Department has already seen a lot of appointment slots filling up for the new vaccine booster. You can book an appointment on the department’s website.

But they aren’t the only ones offering it. She says most pharmacies, and health care providers have also switched to this new vaccine, and generally have a similar easy online registration process.