The 2023 formulation of the coronavirus vaccine became available Friday in the United States after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed the jab for anyone over the age of 6 months.
The new shots arrive just as the country hits the fall and winter respiratory virus season and just as new vaccines for influenza and RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus are becoming available.
It’s important to note it’s not a booster dose. It’s a standalone vaccine shot, just like an annual flu shot. The updated version isn’t intended to prevent infection, but it is designed to reduce the severity of symptoms for those who contract SARS-CoV-2 and also to curb the risk of contracting “Long Covid,” a condition that regular readers of this space know I have been suffering from for close to two years.
Get the new coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available in your area: Data shows that it offers protection against the new EG.5 and FL.1.5.1 omicron subvariants in addition to BA.2.86.
While you’re at it, get the new flu vaccine and, if your doctor thinks it advisable, the RSV jab as well.
There is one thing to keep in mind, namely that this is the first time that the federal government isn’t paying for and distributing the vaccine given that the public health emergency expired in May. The current coronavirus vaccine is available from the drug companies just like the flu shot and other vaccines.
However, the vaccine should still be available at no cost to people who have both commercial and government-sponsored insurance such as Medicare and Medicaid. If you’re not eligible for a free dose based on these criteria, it pays to check with your jurisdiction’s department of health as there will still be limited availability of vaccines at no charge to people without insurance and people who don’t have sufficient insurance coverage.
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