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MDHHS revises COVID-19 guidelines to recommend newer bivalent vaccines

illustration of a COVID-19 molecule

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is updating the guidelines that surround vaccinations against COVID-19.

MDHHS is recommending Michiganders receive one dose of a bivalent COVID vaccine to be considered up-to-date. That's because those doses protect against both earlier strains of the virus as well as newer variants like Omicron.

Those who’ve only received earlier monovalent vaccinations aren’t considered fully protected from the virus anymore because they don't provide immunization against newer strains.

Michigan’s Chief Medical Executive Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian said that’s even if they completed a full series of doses from older versions of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.

"What we're really doing is aligning with public health agencies across the country, using the most reliable data we have on which vaccines are most effective," Bagdasarian said. "And those are the bivalent vaccines.”

Bagdasarian recommends residents check with their primary care physician or local health department to see if they’re up-to-date. People who are over the age of 65 or immunocompromised are also eligible for a second dose of the bivalent vaccine.

She added that she understands residents are "tired of talking about infectious diseases" but emphasized the importance of being immunized to prevent outbreaks of preventable infections. Michigan is also currently experiencing a record-low in immunization rates among children.

Bagdasarian noted she believes COVID-19 may begin to experience more seasonal trends with lower caseloads in the spring and summer and the potential for surges of cases in the cooler months.

“It becomes very important for us to think about this as a seasonal virus and to prepare for it in the fall, the same way we do for things like influenza," she said.

On the three-year anniversary of the pandemic, the health executive previously said the scientific community may recommend receiving an annual COVID vaccine.

Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.
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