New COVID vaccine rolling out across San Antonio
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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new COVID-19 vaccine to protect against the omicron variant last week.
CVS and Walgreens stores in San Antonio have started rolling it out. Eligible patients can make an appointment online. H-E-B also has the updated vaccine. Patients can receive it two months after their last booster dose.
Jason Bowling, a professor and an infectious disease specialist at UT Health San Antonio, explained to TPR’s The Source that the updated vaccine has a new strain of the virus.
“It’s an XBB.1.5 which really just means it’s a descendent of omicron. [It] is very similar to other variants — all descendants of omicron. So it matches better with what’s circulating to try and provide better antibody protection,” he said.
The vaccine is available for everyone aged six months and older. But because of the end of the public health emergency earlier this year, the government is no longer paying for bulk vaccines for the public.
“They’re trying to move it more to an endemic strategy, similar to what we have to the flu vaccine,” Bowling said.
The vaccines should be covered by insurance, but for those that are uninsured, the government’s Bridge Access Program could help. Those interested can visit vaccines.gov to find no-cost COVID-19 vaccines.
The COVID-19 vaccine can be taken at the same time as the flu vaccine. The federal strategy is to make it a yearly appointment, instead of two.
Bowling said people 60 or older can talk to their health care professionals about getting the RSV vaccine.
“So that’s one. The new COVID vaccine, it’s just one dose for most people, and then the influenza vaccine, so it’d be three doses,” he said.
Patients can get all three vaccines at the same time.
Nationally, only about 17.1% of people that were eligible to receive the other bivalent booster actually got it.
“So, there was a lot of talk about it, but not very many people ended up getting it,” Bowling said.
The most common side effects of the new vaccine may include injection site pain, redness and swelling, as well as fatigue, muscle pain, chills, headache, and fever.