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Hollister pharmacies are now carrying the latest COVID-19 vaccine for the 2023-24 season, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration on Sept. 11. San Benito County Public Health Pharmacist Mary White told BenitoLink this vaccine carries the new variant and is “therefore more protective” than previous COVID-19 vaccines.
“As we enter flu, COVID and RSV [Respiratory syncytial virus] season, we want everyone to stay as healthy as possible,” White said. “And really, vaccines are the best way to do that.”
The new COVID-19 vaccine also comes with a new protocol for those seeking a vaccination.
The updated vaccine is fully covered by most insurance plans. But for people without health insurance—or with plans that do not cover the cost—White said the state is providing Public Health with limited doses for those enrolled in the Vaccine for Children program or the Bridge Access Program.
“Those eligible for these programs are the uninsured and underinsured,” she said.
Also, pharmacies are now ordering the vaccine independently, which means patients may not be able to choose their preferred brand of vaccine.
Some pharmacies have both Pfizer and Moderna, others have only Moderna or only Pfizer. “It just depends on the pharmacy,” White said. “If you’re seeking one specific brand, you may have to check around.”
Most pharmacies are accepting walk-in appointments for the vaccine, but they are encouraging patients to schedule their appointments because of long wait times. CVS, located inside Target, told BenitoLink walk-in appointments are asked to arrive two hours before the pharmacy closes. Safeway pharmacy is accepting online appointments, but not walk-ins, and Rite-Aid told BenitoLink that walk-in appointments should expect a 45-minute wait.
Appointments can also be made at myturn.ca.gov. The website provides a list of pharmacies, offices and locations that offer the COVID vaccine, White said.
“For some who would rather go to their doctor, they may want to check to see if their doctor has it,” she added.
Those eligible to receive the updated COVID-19 vaccine are individuals who have waited at least 2 months since their last dose of any COVID-19 vaccine, “individuals five years of age and older regardless of previous vaccination,” and children between the ages of six months and four years that were previously vaccinated, the FDA said in a news release.
The release also said unvaccinated children six months through four years of age are eligible to receive three doses of the updated authorized Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine or two doses of the updated authorized Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine.
“Vaccination remains critical to public health and continued protection against serious consequences of COVID-19, including hospitalization and death,” said Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “The public can be assured that these updated vaccines have met the agency’s rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality. We very much encourage those who are eligible to consider getting vaccinated.”
As of Oct. 2, these pharmacies are carrying the 2023-24 COVID-19 vaccine:
- Rite Aid 831-636-1692
Pfizer available; by appointment or walk-in. Walk-ins prepare for a 45-minute wait.
- CVS (located inside Target) 831-638-4824
Limited availability (call first); by appointment or walk-in. Walk-ins arrive at least 2 hours prior to closing.
- Walgreens 831-638-1024
Moderna available; by appointment or walk-in.
- Safeway Pharmacy 831-638-3247
Moderna and Pfizer available; by appointment only.
- Nob Hill Pharmacy 831-637-7423
Moderna and Pfizer available; by appointment or walk-in.
As of Oct. 2, the following have not received the updated COVID-19 vaccine:
- The San Benito Health Foundation 831-637-5306
- The iCare Pharmacy #2 831-265-7733
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