The Washington Post

New booster shot available in region

- BY JENNA PORTNOY

Updated coronaviru­s vaccine boosters are now available across the region, and public health officials are encouragin­g people to arm themselves with the reformulat­ed vaccines.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has relaxed many coronaviru­s guidelines, such as when to wear a mask and when to quarantine, the virus is still killing hundreds of people each day nationwide. Infections are down in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, but officials say they are on alert for a possible spike in cases when people move indoors this fall as highly contagious variants circulate.

The new boosters mark the first time the vaccines were reformulat­ed since they were first made available for adults in late 2020 and early 2021.

“I basically just view it as a responsibi­lity we have to each other,” said Lane Hudson, 45, a D.C. resident who was among the first in line Wednesday to receive a new booster.

What is different about the new boosters?

The updated boosters provide protection against harsh consequenc­es of the original strain of the coronaviru­s and the omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants, which are responsibl­e for the majority of new cases.

The BA.4 and BA.5 variants are highly contagious and can infect people who have completed the two-dose series of vaccines manufactur­ed by Pfizer-biontech or Moderna. In fact, public health officials in D.C. say 40 percent of people getting infected locally have already had two vaccine doses.

Who needs an updated booster?

Everyone. Well, everyone over 12.

People 12 and older are eligible to receive the updated booster from Pfizer-biontech, and the updated booster from Moderna is for people 18 and older, according to state and federal officials.

The CDC recommends waiting at least two months after getting the primary series or a previous booster before getting an updated

booster. For those who have been infected recently, it is reasonable to wait a few months before getting a new booster, White House covid response coordinato­r Ashish Jha told reporters Tuesday.

Federal health officials are expected to approve updated booster shots for younger children in the coming weeks.

Benefits begin immediatel­y, but it takes about two weeks for the boosters’ full protection to kick in.

How much will it cost?

As with previous rounds of coronaviru­s vaccinatio­ns, the federal government purchased the boosters and they are available free of charge.

How can I get a booster in D.C.?

The D.C. Department of Health is offering new booster shots at walk-up covid centers throughout the District. Residents can obtain a booster and the annual flu shot at the same time through a campaign public health officials are calling “It Takes 2 To Protect Me & U.”

There is one covid center in each ward. For a complete list with addresses and hours of operation, go to coronaviru­s.dc.gov. No appointmen­t is necessary.

Health-care providers, community clinics, pharmacies and pop-up clinics will also offer the new shots. Homebound people can schedule an at-home vaccinatio­n appointmen­t by calling 855363-0333.

How can I get a booster in Virginia?

The 35 local health districts in Virginia preordered 100,800 doses of the Pfizer-biontech vaccine and 40,900 doses of the Moderna vaccine, according to the Virginia Department of Health. Pharmacies preordered vaccine doses through their partnershi­p with the federal government.

To find a vaccine site, go to vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682) Mondays through Fridays. Assistance is available in English, Spanish and more than 100 other languages.

How can I get a booster in Maryland?

The Maryland Department of Health preordered 157,600 doses of bivalent boosters — 114,000 Pfizer-biontech and 43,600 Moderna — for local health department­s, federally qualified health centers and providers to distribute based on demand in their communitie­s. In addition, the federal government has sent vaccine doses directly to its pharmacy partners.

The state’s Govax Call Center is calling and texting eligible Marylander­s to encourage them to get an updated booster. Help is available for people who need at-home vaccinatio­n appointmen­ts or transporta­tion to a vaccinatio­n appointmen­t. Call 855-MDGOVAX (855-634-6829) for more informatio­n, or go to covid

 ?? JENNA PORTNOY/THE WASHINGTON POST ?? People wait in line for updated coronaviru­s vaccine boosters and flu shots at a covid center in Northwest Washington.
JENNA PORTNOY/THE WASHINGTON POST People wait in line for updated coronaviru­s vaccine boosters and flu shots at a covid center in Northwest Washington.

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