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New Moderna and Pfizer booster shots of the reformulated COVID-19 vaccine are now available, following a review process from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The updated shots, called bivalent vaccines, target both the original strain of the coronavirus and the widespread BA.4/BA.5 omicron subvariants that have largely evaded previous boosters.
These new omicron booster shots “can help restore protection that has waned since previous vaccination and were designed to provide broader protection against newer variants,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky in a statement.
“If you are eligible, there is no bad time to get your COVID-19 booster and I strongly encourage you to receive it,” said Walensky.
Keep reading for what you need to know about the new COVID booster shots from Pfizer and Moderna. And remember, whichever shot you get, all COVID vaccinations are free, with or without health insurance.
You also will not be asked about your immigration status or be required to show any proof of citizenship. Getting a COVID vaccine does not make you a public charge and won’t affect any current or future green card applications.
Remember, too: If you work in California for an employer with 26 or more employees, you are eligible for up to 80 hours of COVID-related paid sick leave. This includes time off to get your updated COVID booster or to recover from any side effects — or to take a family member to get their new COVID booster, or care for them while they recover. At present, this paid sick leave is set to expire on September 30. Read more about California’s paid COVID-related leave.
Anyone age 12 and up who got their last COVID vaccine shot at least two months ago — whether that was their primary vaccination series or their last booster shot — can now get an updated COVID booster.
The new Pfizer booster is available to people age 12 and older who have had their primary vaccination series. The new Moderna booster is available to people age 18 and older who have had their primary series.
NPR reports that many vaccine experts are advising that people wait at least four months since either their last shot or their last COVID infection for the boosters to be most effective. And, of course, with all matters relating to your health, it’s best to speak directly to your health care provider about the best options available to you.
Yes, you can “mix and match” brands, regardless of whether you originally got Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson and Johnson shots for your primary vaccine series or your booster(s) after that.
So, for instance, someone who originally got the Moderna vaccine can now get a new booster from either Moderna or Pfizer — and vice versa.
Don’t assume you’ll be proactively contacted about getting the new COVID-19 booster.
Remember that a certain location may only be offering a certain type of new booster, whether that’s Moderna or Pfizer. So be sure that the location you’re walking into or making an appointment for offers the type of vaccine you need or want, particularly if you’re under 18 years old (and you can only get the Pfizer one). Read more about “mixing and matching” COVID vaccine boosters.
Also make sure the appointment you schedule for your new booster is at least two months after your last COVID vaccine shot, or your last COVID infection. When you’re making an appointment for a booster shot, you’ll likely be asked for the date of your last COVID vaccine dose or booster dose to ensure you’re not getting your shot too soon.
1. Find a Moderna or Pfizer booster shot through a local pharmacy.
Pharmacies are the first place these new booster shots will become available, and several pharmacy chains are already offering online appointments for them. Some also offer walk-in appointments with no prescheduling required.
2. Find a Moderna or Pfizer booster shot through My Turn.
My Turn is the state’s site for Californians to schedule vaccination appointments, as supplies allow. You can also try to find walk-in appointments through My Turn.
Keep in mind it may take a few days for appointments for these new booster shots to become available on My Turn. If you’re not seeing any availability yet, and you don’t want to wait, consider making an appointment at a pharmacy instead.
If you do visit the My Turn page, select “Make an Appointment.” My Turn will ask for your information, and the ZIP code or location you’d like to use to search for vaccine appointments. You can give your home location, or input other locations to see which sites might be available farther away.
You don’t need to be a resident or a worker in the particular county where your preferred vaccination site is located, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), which manages My Turn. So don’t worry if the site suggests appointments in a different county.
If you can’t travel to a clinic for your booster shot because of health or transportation issues, you can note this when registering on My Turn, and a representative from the CDPH is supposed to call you to arrange an in-home visit or transportation.
If you’re trying to find an appointment at a certain location and can’t see it in the search results, try searching on My Turn for that site’s exact ZIP code, rather than your own. Remember that if you’re not seeing a specific site in the search results, it might just be because of low supply or lack of available appointments. Most of the results may also likely be pharmacy locations, with a handful of public health clinics mixed in, so make sure to look through the list carefully to find your preferred provider.
My Turn will ask you to provide a cellphone number and an email address. The state says this is so you can use two-factor authentication to confirm your identity and make your appointment, and to prevent bots from automatically scooping up available appointments online.
If you don’t have an email address or a cellphone number, or you have questions, you can call the California COVID-19 hotline at (833) 422-4255 (Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m.-5 p.m PT) and sign up over the phone. Both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking operators are available. Callers needing information in other languages will be connected to a translation service that offers assistance in over 250 languages.
3. Find a Moderna or Pfizer booster shot through your county.
It may take a few days for appointments for these new booster shots to become available at your county public health sites. If you’re not seeing any availability yet, and you don’t want to wait, consider making an appointment at a pharmacy instead.
Visit your county’s public health website to learn how your county is vaccinating its residents. If the county you work in is different from your county of residence, it’s likely you can get vaccinated in either county. The availability of vaccination appointments in your county will be based on the number of doses it has received from the state.
You can also sign up to receive notifications via email from your county to be alerted when appointments become available. Find your Bay Area county in our list.
4. Find a Moderna or Pfizer booster shot through your health care provider.
It may take a few days for appointments for these new booster shots to become available from your health care provider. If you’re not seeing any availability yet, and you don’t wait to wait, consider making an appointment at a pharmacy instead.
If you have health insurance, check with your provider to see whether they can offer you a booster shot. If you don’t have health insurance but get medical care through a city- or county-run provider, you should check with that location to see whether they can offer you the booster.
In addition to trying to talk with your health care provider directly, check the website of your provider to see whether it’s offering the ability to make appointments, and sign up for their vaccine notifications if that’s an option.