woman at podium
Detroit Chief Public Health Officer Denise Razo Fair discusses the new bivalent COVID-19 booster shots, which are now available in Detroit. The vaccines help protect against newer and more contagious variants of the virus, Fair said during a September 9, 2022 press conference. (BridgeDetroit photo by Bryce Huffman)

There are new COVID-19 booster shots in town.

Detroiters vaccinated against COVID-19 who have received their first booster shot can now get one of the new bivalent boosters that helps guard against newer COVID variants like Omicron BA.4 and BA.5, which are considered the most contagious variants to date according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The bivalent COVID-19 booster will be available to individuals who received their first booster dose at least two months ago. The Pfizer bivalent booster is available for people 12 years or older while the Moderna bivalent booster is available for ages 18 and up.

Denise Fair Razo, chief public health officer for the Detroit Health Department, said she understands people are tired of hearing and thinking about COVID-19, but Detroiters should remain vigilant. 

“I get it, people are tired, but COVID is still out there,” Fair Razo said during a Friday morning news conference. “We still experience people who are dying due to COVID and so I don’t want people to just forget about COVID, I really want them to take advantage of the booster shot.”

According to the city’s COVID-19 dashboard, there have been 3,788 confirmed cases of the virus in Detroit in the last 30 days. There have been 17 confirmed deaths due to COVID in that same time. Fair Razo said starting Saturday the city is offering the new boosters at the Detroit Health Department at 100 Mack Avenue.

Boosters also will be available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays at the Samaritan Center, 5555 Conner; and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday at the Northwest Activities Center, 18100 Meyers.

“We’re offering it all across the City of Detroit because we want to provide equitable access to the vaccine,” she said. “We’re also going to go out into the community. So we’ll be at senior centers and nursing homes making sure that everyone stays protected.”

Detroit health officials could not immediately provide the number of bivalent booster doses that the department has, but said there are more than enough to meet the anticipated demand.

Fair Razo noted that like the other COVID-19 vaccines, there may be side effects with the new boosters.

“What we have heard is that the side effects include soreness at the site of injection, maybe some dizziness, maybe feeling really tired,” said Fair Razo, who intends to get the new booster on Saturday.

The health department is holding a free block party Saturday where Detrotiers can get free food and make sure they are up to date on their immunizations.

“We want everyone to know that we have medical resources available right here at the health department,” Fair Razo said, “including COVID-19 shots, including the new bivalent booster, we have monkey pox vaccines, childhood immunizations, flu shots, and also more than 15 other vaccines, including polio, measles and mumps.”

The block party, off John R on the east side of the health department building, is from noon to 4 p.m.

Free parking will be available at the health department and in the DMC garage, 311 Mack Avenue. For more information, contact the Detroit Health Department at (313) 774-5233 or visit the health department website.

Bryce Huffman is a reporter for BridgeDetroit. He was formerly a reporter for Michigan Radio, and host of the podcast, Same Same Different.

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