Doses of the bivalent COVID-19 booster designed to combat the most common COVID subvariants might be available as soon as next week in Yakima County and across the country.

Though COVID-19 numbers in Yakima County continued to drop for the fifth consecutive week, federal health officials are anticipating a nationwide spike in COVID cases during the winter months.

A new booster

To prepare for this, the U.S Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both approved Pizfer and Moderna’s bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccines earlier in the week.

Unlike the monovalent COVID-19 vaccine that came before it, the bivalent vaccine carries the genetic recipe for the original COVID-19 strain first detected in 2019 as well as the genetic recipe for omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5. Combined, these two strains make up about 93% of all COVID-19 cases in Washington.

The addition of this genetic recipe makes the bivalent vaccine better suited to prevent the spread and infection of omicron subvariants. It can also lower the chances of hospitalization due to COVID-19.

Who can get it?

Per both the FDA and CDC, Pfizer’s booster will be available for people ages 12 and up. The Moderna booster is available for adults 18 and up.

The bivalent booster will replace all other booster vaccines in the country. The monovalent vaccine will be available only for primary vaccination rounds.

Though the federal government has already purchased 171 million doses of the new booster, stock will initially be in short supply as deliveries are made across the country. State health officials ask residents to be patient and to prioritize the vaccine for high-risk individuals.

Where can you get it?

During an Aug. 26 media briefing, Lacy Fehrenbach, chief of prevention, safety and health with the Washington State Department of Health, said the DOH has pre-ordered 191,900 booster doses to be sent to different health facilities across the state. Doses ordered by the state are expected to ship the week of Sept. 5.

Nathan Johnson, the Yakima Health District’s emergency response coordinator, said the district has yet to order any doses.

Nationwide pharmacy chains like Walgreens and CVS have started accepting vaccine appointments for the new booster. Both expect the booster to be in stock by early to mid-September.

Local COVID numbers

Total new cases in Yakima County now sit at 81,420 according to the YHD. Weekly case counts dropped from 349 the week of Aug. 22 to 330 last week. Two new deaths were reported, up one from the week before, bringing the total in Yakima County to 739.

The infection rate per 100,000 people in the past 14 days has also dropped from 291 the week of Aug. 22 to 266.

According to the DOH, the county’s vaccination rate sits at 59.9%. The CDC’s COVID-19 community level for Yakima County is low.

Testing and other resources

The YHD recommends visiting or for vaccine locations and availability.

Washington state offers free rapid tests at its website.

People who test positive for COVID-19 are advised to stay home and away from other people while they are contagious. People who used an at-home test can report positive results to Washington’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-525-0127.

If your household needs additional resources, call Care Connect Washington at 1-800-525-0127. Care Connect Washington can provide food and other necessities to people.