Pharmacies around the nation have begun rolling out updated COVID-19 boosters which target the most common omicron strain.
The new boosters were authorized by federal health officials earlier this week in hopes of preventing another winter surge in cases while simultaneously reducing the continuing spread of the BA.5 omicron cases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has counted more than 94.3 million U.S. cases and more than one million deaths. The agency says 34.8% of Americans age 5+ have received the first booster dose.
Previously, COVID-19 vaccines have targeted the original coronavirus strain, even as wildly different mutants emerged. However, the new U.S. boosters are combination, or “bivalent,” shots. They contain half that original vaccine recipe and half protection against the newest omicron versions, BA.4 and BA.5, that are considered the most contagious yet.
CDC APPROVES UPDATED COVID-19 VACCINES TARGETING OMICRON VARIANT
People who are at least 18 years old can get the Moderna bivalent COVID-19 booster as long as it’s been at least two months after their primary or booster vaccination. People who are at least 12 years old can get the Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent COVID-19 booster as long as it’s been at least two months since their primary or booster vaccination.
Additionally, patients can get either booster regardless of the primary dose series or booster vaccine they received previously.
Under the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, 21 national pharmacy partners and independent pharmacy networks are working to broaden access to COVID-19 vaccinations, according to the CDC. The list includes Albertsons, Kroger, Publix Super Markets, Rite Aid, Walgreens and Walmart.
As of August 18, 2022, program participants had administered more than 263.3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses.
Here are some companies that have already announced information on how to get the latest booster:
CVS Pharmacy locations are offering Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccines at locations across the nation. The pharmacies are receiving the boosters on a rolling basis over the next few days and weeks, CVS said.
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Appointments can be made online and through the company’s app but since the initial supply is limited, “patients who would like to receive the updated boosters are encouraged to make an appointment using our digital scheduler,” the company said.
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Rite Aid stores nationwide and Bartell Drugs locations in the Pacific Northwest are scheduling appointments for updated boosters.
Eligible Rite Aid and Bartell customers may request an appointment using Rite Aid’s and Bartell’s respective online pharmacy scheduling tools.
Customers may receive their updated booster dose at Rite Aid or Bartell Drugs regardless of where they received their primary series or previous booster(s). Primary vaccination series are encouraged for customers, if not already received, Rite Aid said.
Walgreens also announced that its offering both the Pfizer and Moderna boosters to eligible individuals who completed a COVID-19 vaccine primary series or received a booster dose at least two months ago.
Walgreens says scheduling an appointment is preferred. Patients can make an appointment online, by calling in or through the company’s app. However, the company said additional appointments will be added daily as select stores begin to receive the updated COVID-19 boosters.
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Walmart told FOX Business that Walmart and Sam’s Club administers and dispenses all authorized vaccines and treatments related to COVID-19 and that its “pharmacists stand ready to administer bivalent boosters as supply allows.”
Patients can use the company’s digital scheduler to make appointments, but the company also offers walk-in appointments as well.
Publix Pharmacy is now offering Moderna and Pfizer updated COVID-19 vaccines as booster doses for eligible individuals who have completed their primary vaccine series.
Customers may use the online reservation system to see if a nearby Publix Pharmacy offers their preferred COVID-19 vaccine and make an appointment. Customers can also walk into any Publix Pharmacy to ask.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.