The long-awaited COVID booster shots made to target the highly contagious BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants have arrived at pharmacies in the Chicago area, with more doses on the way headed to doctors offices and health clinics across Chicago and Illinois.
According to a Friday announcement from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state expects to receive 580,000 doses of the new booster. And that's in addition to the 150,000 doses Chicago is primed to receive, IDPH said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday cleared the reformulated COVID shots following a nearly seven-hour meeting and a 13-1 vote by the agency's independent committee on vaccines. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed off on the shots a few hours later.
Chicago-area Walgreens and CVS locations are both booking appointments for the newly approved COVID booster shots, the two pharmacies announced last week, and Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady will join Mayor Lori Lightfoot to provide update at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday about distribution of the new shots.
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And while COVID cases in the state continue to creep up, with 26,127 new cases reported in Illinois in the past week, the shot isn't cleared for all ages. And, the timing of an individual's last dose matters.
Here's what to know about the shots, who they are for and where appointments are currently available.
Who Can Get the New Booster, And Who is it For?
According to the CDC, only those who have completed a full COVID vaccine series -- which consists of either two Moderna or Pfizer shots, or one Johnson & Johnson shot -- are eligible. Additionally, the shots have certain age restrictions. Here's a breakdown:
- Individuals 18 and older are eligible to receive either Pfizer’s or Moderna’s updated COVID booster shot
- Only Pfizer booster doses can be administered to those aged 12 through 17
- While those younger than 18 years old are eligible for the new COVID booster, they aren't eligible for the Moderna dose
Unlike previous boosters, which may have only been recommended for those who are older or immunocompromised, the new booster shots are recommended for anyone in an eligible age group.
According to a statement put out Thursday by the CDC, the Pfizer booster is recommended for anyone 12 and older, and the Moderna booster is recommended for anyone 18 and older.
"Who is expected to be eligible to receive this updated COVID vaccine? This is all pending FDA and CDC this week, but what we're hearing is it's likely to be anybody aged 12 and up, who has completed their primary series," Dr. Arwady said in a Facebook live update last week, prior to the CDC's approval.
"It doesn't matter whether you got a booster in the past."
Booster Shot Timing
The updated booster dose can be given to eligible individuals at least 2 months after they've received their last booster dose, the CDC says.
Make an Appointment
According to a Thursday statement from Walgreens, scheduling an appointment for the new omicron-targeted booster shot can be made one of the following ways:
- Via Walgreens app
- Calling 1-800-WALGREENS
- Online, at Walgreens.com/ScheduleVaccine
CVS on Friday said appointments can be made at CVS.com, and via the CVS Pharmacy app "as doses are received."
The Chicago Department of Public Health at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday is expected to provide an update on the boosters, and where else in the Chicago area appointments are becoming available.
The update will play live in the video above once it begins.