Updated COVID booster available soon in the Upper Valley

  • This August 2022 photo provided by Pfizer shows vials of the company's updated COVID-19 vaccine during production in Kalamazoo, Mich. U.S. regulators have authorized updated COVID-19 boosters, the first to directly target today's most common omicron strain. The move on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2022, by the Food and Drug Administration tweaks the recipe of shots made by Pfizer and rival Moderna that already have saved millions of lives. (Pfizer via AP)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 9/2/2022 10:49:05 PM
Modified: 9/2/2022 10:45:27 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — New COVID-19 boosters that target newer variants will be available in the Upper Valley as soon as next week.

The new boosters, authorized by the Food and Drug Administration and recommended by the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention this week, are bivalent, which means they target both the original variant and the more recent omicron (BA.5) variant, said Ben Truman, a spokesman for the Vermont Department of Health.

“The primary benefit of these new boosters is they will help to reduce the likelihood of serious illness,” he said. “Widespread uptake of vaccinations by Vermonters will help by reducing the number of hospitalizations and, importantly, lead to fewer deaths.”

The timing is good, Truman said, as doses come while the weather is cooling, people begin to spend more time inside and the region typically sees an increase in respiratory viruses such as colds, flu and now COVID-19.

“It is important that people get their booster shots when they are eligible, especially those who are at higher risk of serious illness,” he said.

People are eligible for the new boosters two months following their primary series or first or second booster shot.

Once the booster vaccines are widely available, such as through health care providers and pharmacies, people should get their booster shots wherever they would normally get vaccinated, Truman said. But in the meantime, the department is working with emergency medical service agencies to set up a limited number of clinics, which will begin to offer booster shots in Vermont on Wednesday.

There are several upcoming COVID-19 walk-in vaccination clinics where people can get the Pfizer Bivalent Booster for ages 12+ or the Moderna Bivalent Booster for ages 18+ at Hartford High School, according to the Department of Health’s website.

■On Thursday, there is a clinic scheduled there from 3-6 p.m.

■On Saturday, Sept. 10, there is another clinic scheduled from 9-11:30 a.m.

■There are walk-in clinics providing the new shots scheduled for Riverside Middle School at 13 Fairgrounds Road in Springfield, Vt., including one on Friday, Sept. 9, from 3-6 p.m.

■The Space on Main in Bradford, Vt., has clinics scheduled on Sept. 10 and Oct. 8 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

■Clinics are scheduled to begin in at the Woodstock High School and Middle School on Sept. 17, repeating every other Saturday from 9-11:30 a.m.

Kinney Drugs, which has locations in Randolph and Bradford, said in a Friday email that it expects to receive doses of the new boosters in six to nine days. Walgreens also is scheduling appointments starting next week.

Meanwhile, Dartmouth Health spokeswoman Cassidy Smith said the Lebanon-based health system expects to get its first shipment late next week.

“We will be offering these new boosters once we receive our supply, potentially the week of Sept. 12,” Smith said.

In addition, Smith said DH, which recently announced it is requiring its employees to get COVID-19 booster shots, is rescheduling appointments for people 12 and older who had scheduled appointments for the existing booster shots because the FDA revoked the emergency use authorization for the existing boosters as part of its authorization of the new shots.

More information about COVID-19 vaccines and where to get them is online at healthvermont.gov/covid-19/vaccine and vaccines.gov.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.

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