Children and infants as young as 6 months old can now receive the updated coronavirus vaccines at several of The Wright Center for Community Health’s primary care practices, increasing their defense against sickness during the upcoming holiday season and new year.
Nationally, health officials have in recent weeks reported a surge of respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, more commonly known as RSV. Hospitals in some areas have returned to operating at or near capacity levels due to the sharp rise in seasonal illnesses. Meanwhile, certain cold medications are in short supply, and officials in several large U.S. cities are again urging indoor masking.
Lackawanna and Luzerne counties were classified as “low” for community spread of COVID-19 as of Dec. 8. New cases, though, had trended higher in the weeks since Thanksgiving. Susquehanna County’s community level is currently “high,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“As winter’s official start draws near, and more activities are conducted indoors, we hope to see more families taking the opportunity to safeguard their health, especially now that adults, children and even many infants are eligible to get the most up-to-date vaccines,” said Dr. Jignesh Sheth, chief medical officer of The Wright Center for Community Health.
Vaccines are the most powerful tool against the highly contagious virus, with demonstrated effectiveness during the pandemic in reducing severe illness, hospitalization and death.
The updated boosters, also called bivalent vaccines, offer protection against the original strain of COVID-19 as well as the now-prevalent omicron sub-variants that account for most new infections in the United States.
The Moderna-made pediatric booster is available for kids ages 6 months through 5 years. Children are eligible for the Moderna booster two months after completing their final primary series dose. Similarly, the Pfizer bivalent vaccine has been approved for children ages 6 months through 4 years old; it will be given as a third primary dose.
People can schedule appointments by visiting The Wright Center’s website at TheWrightCenter.org and using the express online scheduling service or by calling 570-230-0019.
Locations currently offering the updated pediatric boosters include the Mid Valley Practice in Jermyn and the Scranton Practice. A patient may choose to receive the booster shot with or without a vital sign assessment and/or primary care office visit, for which out-of-pocket expenses might be billed by the patient’s health insurance provider.
Adults and children 6 months and older also are encouraged to get an annual flu shot. All available flu vaccines in the U.S. for the 2022-23 season are the quadrivalent variety, meaning they are designed to protect against four different flu viruses. Appointments to receive the flu vaccine can be made at any of The Wright Center’s locations in Northeast Pennsylvania.