- CVS and Walgreens said updated Covid boosters should be available this week
- The announcement comes a day after approval of new boosters
- READ MORE: FDA approves new Covid boosters made by Pfizer and Moderna
Drug store chains like CVS Health and Walgreens will carry updated Covid-19 vaccines as soon as this week, the chains announced Wednesday.
The news comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved updated vaccines Tuesday to tackle new variants, such as Eris and BA.2.86, which have caused an uptick in US Covid cases and hospitalizations.
Walgreens said it would start taking appointments for the updated vaccines this coming Monday but could begin earlier appointments as stores receive vaccines this week.
Rite Aid, meanwhile, said appointments would be live on Friday.
CVS said some pharmacies would begin receiving the new vaccines on Wednesday, with all pharmacy locations expected to have vaccinations in stock by early next week.
CVS Health, Walgreens, and Rite Aid should carry updated Covid-19 vaccines as soon as this week, the chains announced Wednesday
On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved updated vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna for all Americans ages 12 and above. The agency has also authorized the shots for emergency use in children ages six months through 11 years.
The government has said the updated shots will still be free for most Americans with health insurance coverage. However, the US has been paying about $26 per dose of the vaccine, but some manufacturers, such as Pfizer and Moderna, are planning to increase the price up to $130 when the shots are sold on the private market this fall.
The updated shots are designed to boost protection against newer variants.
It’s unclear when other pharmacies, such as Walmart, will begin offering the vaccines. Health officials hope to rev up protection ahead of winter as Covid rates rise across the country for the first time this year — though top experts expect it to be another mild wave.
Even Americans who have never had a Covid shot are eligible.
But appetite for more Covid vaccines is dwindling. Nearly six in 10 Americans over 65 years old failed to get last year’s bivalent booster shot, and experts think even fewer will come forward once the newly formulated Covid vaccines are rolled out.
However, new variants like Eris and BA.2.86 have caused an uptick in cases and hospitalizations, increasing demand for vaccines.
Covid hospitalizations have been rising since late summer, although — thanks to some lasting immunity from prior vaccinations and infections — not nearly as much as this time last year.
Data from the CDC showed 17,400 patients admitted to hospitals nationwide in the last week of August, up 16 percent on the previous seven-day spell.
Despite the rise, rates remain at historic lows. For comparison, there were 150,000 Covid admissions per week at the height of the pandemic in January 2021, and hospitalizations reached as high as 44,000 a week earlier this year.
But protection wanes over time, and the coronavirus continually churns out new variants that can dodge prior immunity.
The FDA said starting at age five, and most people can get a single dose even if they’ve never had a prior Covid shot.
Children aged five and above can get a single dose of a booster Covid vaccine, as long as it has been at least two months since their last Covid shot.
Kids between six months old and four years old, on the other hand, are eligible for one or two doses of the booster shot. Timings of the injections will depend on when they received their last Covid vaccine.
If the child is under five and is yet to receive any Covid vaccines, they will be able to get three doses of the Pfizer booster or two doses of the Moderna booster.
The agency said: ‘The FDA is confident in the safety and effectiveness of these updated vaccines, and the agency’s benefit-risk assessment demonstrates that the benefits of these vaccines for individuals six months of age and older outweigh their risks.’
Younger children might need additional doses depending on their history of Covid infections and vaccinations.
The newest shots target an Omicron variant named XBB.1.5. That specific strain is no longer dominant.
Still, it’s close enough to coronavirus strains causing most Covid illnesses today that FDA determined it would offer good cross-protection.
Early tests show that it is also effective in protecting against BA.2.86, which has triggered fears of a fresh Covid wave.
There are also promising signs it will work against the EG.5 Covid variant, also known as Eris, which is currently dominant in the US.