SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — New COVID-19 booster vaccines are arriving in KELOLAND ahead of the cold and flu season and doctors are recommending the shot for those eligible.

At the end of August, the bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna were approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“So that means it has the original monovalent vaccine that we received as our primary series or maybe a booster dose as well as an Omicron variant component,” Lewis pharmacist Sarah Hicks explained.

Health systems and pharmacies across KELOLAND are beginning to receive the bivalent booster including the Lewis on 26th Street and Sycamore Avenue.

“We have Pfizer here at this location,” Hicks said.

While COVID-19 is much more manageable for health systems now than it was a year ago, Dr. Chad Thury with Avera Health said they’re still seeing an “ebb and flow” of patients hospitalized with the virus.

“It’s not an overwhelming concern, I guess, at this point in time, as far as volume of, you know, COVID patients coming into our hospitals or clinics,” Thury told KELOLAND News Wednesday.

In order to keep people out of hospitals, Thury recommends vaccination and the new bivalent booster for those who are eligible.

“So, you know, one of the things that we’ve found out over time when the pharmaceutical companies have kept the same vaccine that came out, you know, close to two years ago, is that as these new variants have come about, the effectiveness of the vaccine against preventing patients or people from getting COVID has gone down,” Thury said.

That’s why the bivalent booster is important. By targeting the antibody response to the current COVID-19 strain going around, Thury said that improves the vaccine and how it can protect people from morbidity and mortality.

“One of the nice things, I guess, with these Omicron strains is that they tend to be less virulent, meaning less risk of ending up putting people in the hospital and causing death,” Thury said. “But developing or contracting COVID still has other impacts as far as missed work, kids missing school, if kids miss school, parents are home with them, that type of stuff. So, by getting boosted, and certainly this new bivalent one, hopefully, it increases that probability that it’s going to prevent somebody from getting COVID altogether.”

Thury added that COVID-19 may become like influenza in that it becomes a seasonal shot like the flu vaccine. 

“We see that with other vaccines, it’s not unreasonable that we’re going to do the same thing with COVID vaccines, but I think going forward, it’ll be more of an annual booster,” Thury said.

If you were thinking about getting your flu shot within the next few weeks, Thury said you can also get your COVID-19 booster at the same time. He added that as long as two months have passed since your last COVID-19 shot, you are eligible for the bivalent booster.

“If you’re outside of that two-month time frame, I would not hesitate to get it. There’s, there’s well-established evidence that there’s little harm to getting COVID vaccines much like any other vaccines we give,” Thury said. 

The FDA recommends that individuals 12-years-old and up can receive the bivalent booster if two months have passed since their second dose, or last booster. Children aged 5 to 11 can receive a booster at least 5 months after their second dose.

If you have questions about whether you or your children are eligible you should consult with your primary care physician.