Walgreens, CVS now offering appointments for new COVID vaccine (2024)

Following approval from Federal officials earlier this week, drug stores and pharmacies have begun to open up appointments for residents to get the newly updated COVID vaccine.

CVS on Wednesday announced that the updated vaccine "is now available" at its pharmacy locations, 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 locations having the new vaccine in stock by early next week, according to the company.

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“COVID-19 continues to impact communities across the country, so it’s important that we use the tools we have to stay healthy,” said Dr. Sree Chaguturu, executive vice president and chief medical officer for CVS Health. “Vaccination is the most effective way to do this. It’s vital that we keep up with vaccines to help control the continued spread of COVID-19. Through a simple vaccination, we can all help protect ourselves, our families and our communities.”

Appointments can be made at CVS.com and via 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 for those 18 months and older in the coming weeks.

Walgreens also on Wednesday announced that it was already scheduling appointments for the new vaccine. Appointments can be made via the Illinois-based company's scheduling tool or by calling 1-800-WALGREENS. The pharmacy chain said earlier appointments could become available "as inventory arrives in stores."

As officials continue to roll out the new vaccine, a briefing earlier this week from the Chicago Department of Health said "there will be an ample supply of vaccine for everyone, and it should beavailable to all at no costregardless of insurance or immigration status."

According to officials, the new boosters have been formulated differently than previous iterations, targeting a specific strain of COVID that is responsible for nearly 90% of the subvariants currently in circulation in the United States.

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"We have more tools than ever to prevent the worst outcomes from COVID-19," CDC Director Dr. Mandy Cohen said in a media statement. "CDC is now recommending updated COVID-19 vaccination for everyone 6 months and older to better protect you and your loved ones."

Here's what to know about the new shots:

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Who is eligible?

The CDC has recommended that patients that are 6 months of age or older receive an updated booster shot against COVID-19.

The CDC’s recommendations also indicated that individuals under the age of 6, or those with weakened immune systems, may need multiple booster shots, but should do so after consultation with a physician.

The FDA’s recommendations mirror the CDC’s statements from this week.

What is new about this booster shot?

According to the CDC and FDA, the COVID-19 formulations being released by the major vaccine manufacturers will be “monovalent,” meaning they are specifically-designed to target descendants of the XBB.1.5 COVID variant.

That variant, itself a descendant of omicron, has already spawned multiple new subvariants, including EG.5 and FL.1.5.1, and the FDA and CDC both believe that the new vaccine will effectively target those strains as they start to spread in the population of the U.S.

According to the CDC, more than 90% of the COVID viruses circulating now are closely related to the XBB.1.5 strain.

Will the new shots cost anything?

Since the federal national emergency for COVID has ended, the cost of the shots will not be covered by the government, according to officials.

Both 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 that are covered by private insurance or Medicare.

For those who are not insured, the CDC says it is working with health departments, clinics and pharmacies to temporarily provide free shots at this time.

Who should get them?

Those individuals who haven’t received a booster since last fall, and who haven’t had a recent COVID infection, should get the new booster shots as soon as possible, according to experts.

Those who are unvaccinated can also get the booster without completing the multi-dose primary series beforehand, according to the new FDA guidance.

Those who have recently had COVID may wait approximately 90 days to maximize the effectiveness of the new booster, according to officials.

Within the next few weeks, several vaccines will become available to help keep you and your loved ones healthy over this fall and winter season, a time when viruses tend to hit the hardest, NBC Chicago's Lauren Petty reports.

What are the side effects?

According to the CDC and FDA, the side effects of the booster shots are similar to those of previous versions of the vaccine. They include headache, chills, fever, nausea, and pain or swelling of the injection site.

What are the dominant variants of the virus?

There are numerous omicron-offshoots currently in circulation, with EG.5 the most prevalent, responsible for an estimated 21.5% of COVID infections in the U.S.

FL.1.5.1 is close behind, with several XBB variants also becoming more widespread in recent weeks.

Walgreens, CVS now offering appointments for new COVID vaccine (2024)
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