This August 2022 photo provided by Pfizer shows vials of the company’s updated COVID-19 vaccine during production in Kalamazoo, Mich. New boosters targeting the most prevalent strains of the virus that causes COVID are expected to be available in Juneau starting next week. (Pfizer)

This August 2022 photo provided by Pfizer shows vials of the company’s updated COVID-19 vaccine during production in Kalamazoo, Mich. New boosters targeting the most prevalent strains of the virus that causes COVID are expected to be available in Juneau starting next week. (Pfizer)

New COVID boosters expected to be available soon

Scheduling for appointments available now

According to state health officials, new COVID-19 boosters will be made available throughout the state as soon as next week.

“People can start scheduling them now, we have our scheduled walk-in clinics every Friday, and they will be made available next Friday,” said Sarah Hargrave, Southeast Alaska regional public health nurse manager.

Hargrave said that the Friday clinic is located at the Juneau Public Health Center but all pharmacies within Juneau will also carry the vaccines, so people will be able to contact the pharmacies directly to schedule an appointment or check on their availability.

[What to know about the new COVID-19 boosters]

Depending on the vaccines, Hargrave said the Pfizer vaccine will be made available for anybody who is 12 and up who has completed their primary series of two doses, and the Moderna vaccine is available for anyone who is 18 and up and has also completed their primary series.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, vaccine recommendations are always based upon individual age, as well as the first vaccine administered and the time of the last dose. According to the CDC, people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised have different recommendations for COVID-19 vaccines.

“If they’ve recently had a shot they need to wait two months between their last shot, but if they’ve recently had COVID they can go ahead and get their booster as soon as they have recovered from their illness,” Hargrave said.

The CDC has stated that, as was the case with previous COVID-19 vaccines, the updated boosters have been purchased by the federal government and will continue to be free of charge.

The Juneau Public Health Center operates on a sliding scale, Hargrave said, so while there’s no cost for the vaccine, there is, however, a charge for the administration fee, but no one is denied service for inability to pay.

“The booster that we had last week, we’re suspending administering that in favor of this new vaccine, which is a bivalent vaccine, meaning it’s going to cover both the original Wuhan virus and the omicron variant,” Hargrave said.

The CDC website states that updated COVID-19 boosters can both help restore protection that has decreased since previous vaccination, and provide broader protection against newer variants. The updated, or bivalent boosters, target the most recent omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5, that are more contagious and more resistant than earlier strains of omicron.

“The updated COVID-19 boosters are formulated to better protect against the most recently circulating COVID-19 variant. They can help restore protection that has waned since previous vaccination and were designed to provide broader protection against newer variants. This recommendation followed a comprehensive scientific evaluation and robust scientific discussion. If you are eligible, there is no bad time to get your COVID-19 booster and I strongly encourage you to receive it,” said CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky in a statement.

Hargrave added that the Juneau Health Center is planning its large base community clinic for early October and while the exact location has yet to be determined, Hargrave said that it will be located at one of the Juneau high schools as opposed to the Centennial Hall.

On the City and Borough of Juneau’s COVID-19 webpage, vaccine and booster information is listed along with a link where people can register for vaccine appointments at the health center.

• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at jonson.kuhn@juneauempire.com.

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