The Food and Drug Administration recently approved a bivalent version of the COVID-19 vaccine booster. Bivalent vaccines contain two mRNA components that will help generate an immune response to both the original strain of Sars-CoV-2, the COVID-19 virus, as well as the two omicron variants of SARS-CoV-2 (BA.4 and BA.5) that are more common today.
Bivalent booster vaccines are a combination, containing both the original vaccine “recipe” and a component specific to addressing the omicron variants. This differentiates new boosters from earlier booster vaccines, which were monovalent, containing only the original vaccine recipe.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center has received a shipment of the bivalent booster and will make it available to employees of VUMC and Vanderbilt University, along with patients. As with earlier boosters, VUMC will require its employees eligible to receive the bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccination to do so by Jan. 15, 2023, unless they have an approved exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement.* (See “Exemption Information,” below.)
VUMC will have bivalent boosters available for its employees at multiple locations listed below while Vanderbilt University employees should go to the Occupational Health Clinic located on the sixth floor of the Medical Arts building to receive their boosters.
VUMC’s bivalent booster requirement will help protect all patients, families and employees from severe COVID-19 infection and the spread of the COVID-19 virus to those in our environment who are not protected by vaccination (such as those with suppressed immune systems).
COVID-19 booster vaccinations are now proven effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19. The updated booster will offer additional protection against the current omicron variants.
Now that updated (bivalent) boosters are available at VUMC, patients and employees should no longer receive earlier (monovalent) versions of the COVID-19 vaccine boosters, as these are less effective at providing protection from current omicron variants. Monovalent boosters will not be offered in VUMC locations now that doses of the bivalent booster have been received.
COVID-19 vaccines, both monovalent and bivalent, are currently provided free of charge by the federal government via a Tennessee Department of Health allocation process. There is no charge for the vaccine, but an administration charge is made for patients per federal government and insurance provider guidance. It is uncertain when these vaccines will transition to commercial status as this is dependent on government funding and Congressional vote when current funding is exhausted.
Who needs to get a bivalent booster vaccine?
Bivalent booster vaccines are highly recommended for all individuals ages 12 years and older. Bivalent boosters will be required for all VUMC employees (except for those who have an approved COVID-19 vaccine exemption*).
You can receive a bivalent (updated) booster vaccine if it has been at least 2 months since:
- Your last booster, if you have already received a previous booster dose, OR
- The final dose of your primary vaccine series if you have not yet received a booster
If you have had a recent COVID-19 infection, you may receive your bivalent booster once you have recovered and are out of isolation. However, if you wish to wait 2-3 months since your positive test result to receive the booster, you will need to submit a temporary medical deferral request through the exemption process.
Employees not yet eligible for the booster will be required to receive the bivalent COVID-19 vaccine booster within 30 days after becoming eligible, unless they have an approved exemption.
Where can I get the bivalent booster vaccine?
The following VUMC locations will have the bivalent booster vaccine (more sites may be added in the future):
- Vaccination Clinic at Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks
- Occupational Health Clinic (Medical Arts Building)
- Medical Specialty Clinics at The Vanderbilt Clinic (TVC)
- Vanderbilt Health Hendersonville Primary Care
- Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital
- Vanderbilt Bedford County Hospital (Moderna only)
- Vanderbilt Tullahoma-Harton Hospital
- Vanderbilt Children’s Primary Care in Smyrna
- VU Employees should go to the Occupational Health Clinic, sixth floor, Medical Arts Building
Sites are beginning to receive shipments — more information will be provided soon on how employees and patients may get their bivalent booster vaccine.
Retail pharmacies and other providers across the region are also receiving shipments of bivalent boosters. Employees may receive a booster at these locations as well. Locations can be found on www.vaccines.gov/search.
More information will be provided on booster availability, access and employment requirements. Employees can check the Occupational Health website for more detail on sites with available boosters.
VUMC is not currently requiring employees to provide proof they have received a booster. However, employees may voluntarily submit proof of the booster.
If CMS adopts a rule requiring COVID-19 booster vaccinations for all employees of organizations that participate in the Medicare program, VUMC will require proof of booster vaccination as a condition of continued employment at VUMC for all employees unless they have received an approved exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine requirement.
Employees who wish to request an exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement and/or COVID-19 booster requirement may find information on how to do so at the Vaccine Information Page on the Occupational Health website.
- If you have questions or need additional information about VUMC’s policy on COVID boosters, please speak to your manager.
- For questions regarding the vaccine or options for vaccination, contact the VUMC Occupational Health Clinic at 615-936-0955.
- Answers to common questions can be found here.
*Employees who previously requested and received an exemption from the booster requirement will not be required to submit a new exemption request.