A new COVID vaccine will soon be available to most U.S. residents after federal approval this week, but when could the vaccines actually be used?
According to the CDC, the rollout of the new vaccines is already underway. That means the newly formulated COVID doses could be available in some locations within 48 hours of Tuesday’s approval. In some cases, this period could be even shorter.
Walgreens announced moments after the CDC’s announcement that it was already scheduling appointments for the new vaccine. Appointments can be made through the Illinois-based company’s scheduling tool or by calling 1-800-WALGREENS. The pharmacy chain said earlier appointments may become available “as inventory arrives in stores.”
CVS also announced Wednesday that the updated vaccine “is now available” at its pharmacies, with clinics and pharmacies expected to receive their first shipments Wednesday. Shipments are expected to continue “on a rolling basis throughout the week,” with all sites having the new vaccine in stock by early next week, according to the company.
Appointments can be made at CVS.com and through the pharmacy chain’s app, but walk-ins will also be accepted as various locations receive doses. MinuteClinic locations will begin offering the new vaccine to people 18 months and older in the coming weeks.
“COVID-19 continues to impact communities across the country, so it is important that we use the tools we have to stay healthy,” said Dr. Sree Chaguturu, executive vice president and chief medical officer of CVS Health. “Vaccination is the most effective way to achieve this. It is critical that we keep pace with vaccines to help control the continued spread of COVID-19. With a simple vaccination, we can all help protect ourselves, our families and our communities.
The news comes as COVID cases and hospitalizations rise across the United States.
The new recalls were worded differently than previous iterations, targeting a specific strain of COVID responsible for nearly 90% of subvariants currently circulating in the United States.
“We have more tools than ever to prevent the worst outcomes of COVID-19,” CDC Director Dr. Mandy Cohen said in a media statement. “The CDC now recommends an updated COVID-19 vaccination for everyone 6 months and older to better protect you and your loved ones.”
Here’s what you need to know about the new shots:
Who is eligible?
The CDC has recommended that patients 6 months or older receive an updated COVID-19 booster shot.
The CDC recommendations also state that people younger than 6 years old or those with weakened immune systems may need multiple booster shots, but should do so after consulting a doctor.
The FDA’s recommendations mirror the CDC’s statements this week.
What’s new with this recall?
According to the CDC and FDA, COVID-19 formulations released by major vaccine manufacturers will be “monovalent,” meaning they are specifically designed to target descendants of the XBB.1.5 COVID variant.
This variant, itself a descendant of the omicron, has already spawned several new subvariants, including EG.5 and FL.1.5.1, and the FDA and CDC both believe that the new vaccine will effectively target these strains at as they begin to spread around the world. population of the United States
According to the CDC, more than 90% of COVID viruses currently circulating are closely related to the XBB.1.5 strain.
Will the new shots cost anything?
Since the end of the federal COVID national emergency, the cost of the shots will not be covered by the government, officials say.
Pfizer and Moderna have said they are pricing vaccine doses at more than $100, but officials say the shots will still be free for most Americans covered by private insurance or Medicare.
For those who are uninsured, the CDC says it is currently working with health departments, clinics and pharmacies to temporarily provide free shots.
Who should get them?
People who haven’t received a booster shot since last fall and who haven’t had a recent COVID infection should get the new booster shots as soon as possible, experts say.
Those who are not vaccinated can also receive the booster without first completing the multidose primary series, according to new FDA guidelines.
Those who recently had COVID can wait about 90 days to maximize the effectiveness of the new booster, officials say.
Over the next few weeks, several vaccines will become available to help you and your loved ones stay healthy during this fall and winter season, a time when viruses tend to hit hardest, reports Lauren Petty of NBC Chicago.
What are the side effects?
Side effects from booster shots are similar to previous versions of the vaccine, according to the CDC and FDA. They include headache, chills, fever, nausea, and pain or swelling at the injection site.
What are the dominant variants of the virus?
There are many offshoots of omicrons currently in circulation, with EG.5 being the most prevalent, responsible for approximately 21.5% of COVID infections in the United States.
FL.1.5.1 follows closely, with several XBB variants also becoming more prevalent in recent weeks.