With family gatherings and winter holiday travel on the horizon — and a heavily-mutated new COVID variant emerging in South Africa, more questions are popping up around how and where you can get your COVID vaccine or COVID booster shot.
The city of Chicago says there is ample supply among providers to provide COVID booster shots for adults, and scheduling your COVID booster is free and easy.
Scheduling Your COVID Booster Shot at Chicago Pharmacies
- Here's how to schedule your COVID booster shot at a Chicago Walgreens, or call 1-800 Walgreens
- Here's how to schedule your COVID booster shot at a Chicago CVS
- Here's how to schedule your COVID booster shot at a Chicago Jewel-Osco
- Here's how to find the COVID vaccine provider closest to you, or call 1-800-232-0244
- Here's where you can find vaccine pop-up clinics across the city of Chicago
If You've Gotten the COVID Vaccine, Here's When You Can Get Your Booster Shot
According to the CDC, you should get your COVID booster shot six months at six months of receiving your initial COVID vaccine dose of your initial Pzifer or Moderna vaccine.
For the nearly 15 million people who got the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, it's recommended that you get your COVID booster shots two or more months after that single dose.
Does it Matter Which COVID Vaccine Booster (Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer) You Get?
Federal regulators have recommended getting the same shot as your first dose for booster doses, and Chicago's Commissioner of the Department of Public Health Dr. Allison Arwady said that applies particularly to those who got an mRNA vaccine.
"If you got Moderna or Pfizer, I would recommend sticking with the same one that you got initially," she said during a Facebook Live event last week.
Doses of the two vaccine makers' booster shots are different, Arwady noted. Moderna's booster dose will be half of its original dosing, while Pfizer's booster shot is the same as the initial doses.
The reason why Moderna is a half dose is because Moderna had a higher dose of the mRNA the only active part of the vaccine to start with. So it's part of why the side effects are sometimes a little higher and the folks who have Moderna.
For those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Arwady said "we definitely are seeing people choosing to get the Pfizer or Moderna as their follow up dose," a move she "fully supports."
What Should I Know About The COVID Variant Found in South Africa?
South African scientists have identified a new version of the coronavirus this week that they say is behind a recent spike in COVID-19 infections in Gauteng, the country’s most populous province.
It's unclear from where the new variant actually arose, but it was first detected by scientists in South Africa and has also been seen in travelers to Hong Kong and Botswana.
The variant, known as B.1.1.529, appears to have a high number of mutations — about 30 — in the coronavirus' spike protein, which could affect how easily it spreads to people.
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO's technical lead on Covid-19, said in a livestreamed Q&A on Thursday that scientists "don't know very much about this yet" and that it would take a few weeks to gain a full picture of how the variant reacts to existing vaccines.
The U.K. immediately moved to ban flights from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia, Eswatini and Zimbabwe from noon on Friday to 4 a.m. local time on Sunday.
The U.K. Health Security Agency is investigating the variant, which Health Secretary Sajid Javid said is "potentially concerning." No cases have yet been identified in the U.K., and Javid emphasized that although more data is needed at this early stage, the government had opted to take precautions.
"This is the most significant variant we have encountered to date and urgent research is underway to learn more about its transmissibility, severity and vaccine-susceptibility," said U.K. HSA Chief Executive Jenny Harries.
The B.1.1.529 variant has not been detected in the United States.