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Requests for Updated COVID-19 Vaccine Can Start Sept. 20

LVPG practices awaiting shipments from Pfizer-BioNTech

COVID-19 Vaccine

Editor's note: Information about scheduling updated 10/18/2023


Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) patients looking to get the newly authorized COVID-19 vaccines, formulated to be more effective against recent circulating variants of the virus, will be able to reach out to their doctors starting Sept. 20.

COVID vaccine shots are by appointment only at Lehigh Valley Physician Group (LVPG) practices. To schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, people should call their LVPG primary care clinician's office directly.

If a person does not have an LVPG primary care clinician, they can call 888-402-LVHN (5846) to schedule a new patient visit that will establish care with the team. A vaccine can be provided at that visit.

LVHN no longer operates large COVID-19 shot clinics as it did when the COVID-19 pandemic began more than 3½ years ago.

Authorizations came the week of Sept. 10 from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for updated monovalent vaccines from both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Because of the new approvals, previously approved bivalent COVID-19 vaccines are no longer administered.

At this time, LVHN will only offer Pfizer-BioNTech in its practices. Both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines will be available at retail pharmacies across the region. Patients may receive either new COVID vaccine, regardless of their receipt of a different COVID vaccine in the past.

LVHN also expects to have COVID vaccines available soon at its ExpressCARE locations and will announce availability at those sites at a later date.

The CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older get an updated COVID-19 vaccine to protect against the potentially serious outcomes of COVID-19 illness this fall and winter. Like the recent COVID vaccines, the current vaccine is intended to reduce the risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death following infection with COVID. More recent data presented by the CDC indicates the COVID vaccine results in a lower likelihood of developing long COVID-19.

Insurance will cover the cost of the vaccine, though an administration fee could apply in some cases. People should check with their insurance carrier for coverage information. The CDC has a Bridge Access Program for uninsured and underinsured adults.

“Vaccination remains the best insurance against COVID-related hospitalizations and death, especially in the highest risk groups such as the elderly and those with underlying immunosuppression and chronic medical conditions.” - Timothy Friel, MD

The new monovalent COVID-19 vaccines are designed to provide more focused protection against newer strains of the virus, including XBB.1.5, a more recent descendent of the omicron variant.

The CDC recommends the following if it’s been at least two months since you received the older, bivalent COVID vaccine:

  • Those 5 and older should receive one dose of the 2023-24 mRNA COVID vaccine.
  • Children ages 6 months through 4 years will need one dose if previously vaccinated. Those with no prior COVID vaccination will receive a series of two (Moderna) or three (Pfizer-BioNTech) doses.
  • People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should discuss vaccination strategies with their doctor. The number of doses recommended will depend on prior vaccination status and age.

“Vaccination remains the best insurance against COVID-related hospitalizations and death, especially in the highest risk groups such as the elderly and those with underlying immunosuppression and chronic medical conditions,” said Timothy Friel, MD, Chair, Department of Medicine, LVHN. “For patients at lower risk of complications or those with questions about vaccination, I always encourage consultation with your doctor or clinician to help you make the vaccine decision that’s right for you.”

Dr. Friel said though COVID is unfortunately still with us, things have evolved during the past three years. “The virus has continued to change, and, for most patients, our immune systems are better equipped to respond to infection because of our exposure to prior vaccines and natural infection. Nonetheless, we have been experiencing an increase in cases and hospitalizations, though still at significantly lower levels than we witnessed during prior Septembers,” Dr. Friel said.

If you have any questions concerning COVID-19 vaccination scheduling, call 888-402-LVHN (5846).


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