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PSA: Updated COVID vaccines available nationwide starting Saturday 9/16/2023 💉

A new version of the COVID 19 vaccine (both Pfizer and Moderna flavors), updated for the latest Omicron subvariants, was approved on Monday (9/11/23) by FDA, and was greenlighted by CDC Tuesday (9/12/23).

Large national pharmacy chains (eg CVS, Walgreens, etc.) are already scheduling appointments for the updated vaccines beginning as early as Saturday 9/16 (and may be available even a couple days earlier in some places).

If you have travel coming up (as I do...✈️), if it's been a while since your last COVID jab (mine was October 2022...🎃), and/or you want to top-off your COVID protection before you head off (I do...💪🏻), you can sign up now for appointments beginning this weekend (I just did, and will get jabbed Sunday 💉).

(Updated 9/13/23 to reflect earlier appointment dates now available)

Posted by
3236 posts

I hope Canada won’t be far behind.
As far as I know it’s not approved for use here just yet.
Though a couple of people I know were told by their doctors to wait and get the new version when they asked about getting a booster recently, so it won’t be long.

Posted by
16882 posts

Thanks, David. We depart tomorrow for Switzerland and Italy, too soon to get the new vaccine. We chose to get boosters last week, for whatever limited protection the bivalent one can provide.

We both contracted covid a year ago in Italy, and hardly got sick at all, so we are all in favor of vaxing and boosters. But we will have to wait several months to get the new one.

Posted by
2585 posts

I had the bivalent booster in May so I will hold off until closer to the end of the year, depending on whether I'm getting away for the holiday break.

Posted by
4629 posts

If you have travel coming up (as I do...✈️)

End of month, 5-1/2 hour flight, 4 day conference

it's been a while since your last COVID jab (mine was October)

November

and/or you want to top-off your COVID protection before you head off (I do...💪🏻), you can sign up now for appointments next week

CVS, done

(I just did, and will get jabbed Monday 💉).

Friday

Thanks David. I’ve been traipsing around the country and Europe this year without issue but the recent variant is hitting family members never infected before. I’d made a proactive appointment for the old vaccine for next week at my usual clinic knowing the new vaccine would be out by then, but my strategy backfired when they called today canceling all appointments and not saying when new ones could be made.

Posted by
15675 posts

I had my last booster in early July. I head back to the US in early October for a couple of weeks. I'll wait to see what the rules are for time between booster shots.

Posted by
6788 posts

CVS is accepting appointments for Moderna 2023/2024 this week

@Tom, I believe the availability is based (at least to some extent) on location. Here (Seattle area), I've looked at many places to get the new vaccine, and none have appointments listed as available until Monday. Starting Monday, they all seem to.

I believe Moderna manufactures their COVID vaccines in Bloomington, Indiana - just down the road from you. Out here on the distant Pacific shores, I suspect they are allowing a couple more days for shipping and distribution.

I had been watching all the local options for a few weeks, and had been planning to do the same as you: I figured I'd just make an appointment for around 9/18, and I assumed they would give the "newest" vaccine available at the time (9/18 was my guess weeks ago for availability based on scheduled/expected FDA and CDC meetings to greenlight it, as reported in many news sources). But I noticed something odd: weeks ago, one could schedule a COVID vaccine appointment multiple weeks ahead (don't recall exactly, but I think the booking window was roughly 3-4 weeks). Then I noticed that the window was shrinking with each passing day, and there were no appointments beyond 9/17.

I called and spoke with the pharmacist at several local CVS outlets this morning, and all told me the same thing: they did not have any of the new vaccines yet (nothing in local storage) and they had no idea when they would get them, most guessed end-of-the-month or later. Then around noon today (Pacific) CVS's scheduler web page went offline for 2 hours. When it came back, there were no longer any COVID appointments available this week, through Sunday (there had been many previously). Now, all appointments were 9/18 or later. So it looks like once the FDA approved today, they yanked all existing appointments and started scheduling only the updated vaccine, when it's expected (later this week for folks closer, and Monday for those of us out west), YMMV.

Monday is OK with me, I got the (new) RSV vaccine about a week ago, my sore arm should be ready for another poke by Monday.

Posted by
6788 posts

I'll wait to see what the rules are for time between booster shots.

@Frank II - I believe this (details of what is recommended, for whom, and when) will be the subject of Tuesday's CDC meeting, so stay tuned for details.

I've read "at least 2 months after your last COVID shot" as a guideline (sounds a little short to me, but that's just my gut talking). Things should become more clear soon, I'm sure there's going to be lots of news coverage of the updated vaccines in the coming days.

Posted by
4629 posts

David: I had the wrong Friday, it was next week, so switched to Monday, same as you.

Posted by
2765 posts

Just a note

Walgreens wouldn't let me schedule as I have had the most recent booster and am not over 65. CVS originally wasn't showing they were ready to schedule but on trying a second time I was able to schedule both this and my flu shot for a week from Friday.

Posted by
43 posts

YES!! Good reminder as we leave in a few weeks. Safeway pharmacy had openings for next week, where I live. Going for the triple threat: Covid, RSV & flu shot.

Posted by
2237 posts

Thank for for the reminder. I saw this on the news last night and promptly forgot;) I scheduled my vaccine for next week. I am having surgery soon, so really want to have this behind me.

I am using Safeway, which is closest to me.

Posted by
104 posts

Thanks so much for the heads up! Just scheduled Moderna for Sept 22 (I've been Team Pfizer all this time until now). Going on a cruise October 7 and want as much protection as possible (also stocked up on new N95s and KN95s).

Posted by
855 posts

Thanks, David, for the tip-off. I had looked at CVS earlier in the day yesterday and appointments weren’t open. But they are today and we are scheduled in time for our immunity to build up before our next trip.

Posted by
366 posts

Just made an appointment at my local CVS for the new covid vaccine, September 18th.
Had the bivalent vaccine on June 21 before I left for Denmark.
It appears that the new vaccine just recently approved address some evolution of the virus.
I depart for Italy on September 25.
According to NPR and other sources, immunity can occur around 2 weeks after vaccine, or even earlier if the individual has received other boosters or covid. So yes it is available if you're over 65.

Posted by
280 posts

Thanks David,
Yes , CVS covid vaccine appointments were offline for a bit.
I went back this morning and was able to make an appointment for Monday 9/18. I had my choice of Moderna or Pfizer depending on the store location.

What changed though was the description: Instead of Bivalent it says 2023/2024
I am assuming they are choosing 9/18 as the earliest appointment time in order to get it in stock.
Anyways, I am happy because I leave on my next trip exactly 2 weeks from then and will be glad to get the extra protection.
No fun to get sick while travelling especially.

Posted by
6788 posts

Aaaaand as expected, the CDC advisory panel has just given their thumbs-up to the updated vaccines, which should ensure they roll out quickly. Endorsed for everyone, adults and children aged 6 months and up.

"The vaccines could be available this week" says the AP. Many signs suggest this will probably become a routine, annual fall vaccination going forward, like the annual seasonal flu shot.

Posted by
3260 posts

My CVS has vaccines only for the bivalent vaccine listed. I'm holding off as I don't want to get the old vaccine. Did your's list the new vaccine?

Posted by
6788 posts

Did yours list the new vaccine?

Yes. Once you answer the initial questions (date of birth, have you received a COVID vaccination in the past 2 months?, etc. - exact questions may vary based on your age, other factors), on the "Schedule dose" page, right under the "Filter by vaccine brand" turndown, for me it lists:

  • 2023-2024 (Moderna)
  • 2023-2024 (Pfizer)

If you're not seeing those options, maybe try refreshing your browser, trying a different one, restart, try a different zipcode to test (it's doing a search for vaccine availability in your location), etc. Could be using cached page (or maybe in your area local data has not yet been updated). Try again later.

Posted by
788 posts

We fly on Monday for our Danube cruise, so I chose to get another “old” shot a couple of weeks ago for whatever extra protection it might offer. I’m glad the guidance for the new one is two months after last shot. Otherwise I’d have to wait until December under the previous 4-month recommendation.

Posted by
7012 posts

Thanks, David! I’m leaving on September 26 for a week in my Ohio hometown, and will be attending two events that will have a lot of people there. So I was very happy that the new booster came out in time.

I was able to book it at CVS right away, and I had my choice between Moderna and Pfizer. And as you said, they start on Monday, September 18.

Posted by
4293 posts

I hope Canada won’t be far behind.

S.J., Health Canada approved the Moderna vaccine today and it's hoped it will be available in October. The article I read described it as more of an annual vaccine like a flu shot, and not a booster.

Posted by
4012 posts

I’m leaving for Frankfurt on Monday, September 18 so I got the bivalent once again last month at the recommendation of my cardiologist. I got the bivalent initially in September 2022 before I went to Berlin last October; I haven’t gotten any booster in between. I’ll get the newest vaccine when my Cardiologist gives me the go ahead.

Posted by
7012 posts

According to today's article from the Washington Post, it will be now available to anyone over 6 months old.
https://wapo.st/3sOy8G9 (gifted - no paywall)

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted 13-1 to
recommend updated shots from Moderna and from Pfizer and its German
partner, BioNTech, for anyone 6 months and older.

Posted by
129 posts

Like some others, we are trying to beat the clock and get our vaccine prior to departing for Europe. I had originally booked an appointment for Monday 9/18, however this morning I found availability and was able to reschedule for Saturday 9/16.

Posted by
2510 posts

Thanks to Tom for the heads up about earlier appointments - I was able to book one for myself on Saturday at a pharmacy about 30 minutes away from where I live. I leave on 9/19 so I won't have full immunity in time for my trip. But at least I'll have a day or two to recover from the jab before departure and my immune system can get to work on the road ✈️

Posted by
6788 posts

Yep, me too: I found more local appointments, now available starting Saturday 9/16. I was able to reschedule my appointment for Sunday 9/17, which will give me one more day to crank up some more antibodies before I get on the plane the following Friday. Thanks, Tom, for the heads-up about them opening up more appointments a couple days ahead.

Posted by
3236 posts

Yes, I’m happy the new vaccine is now approved for use in Canada.
I’ll get it before my December trip, I hope.

I heard from someone yesterday that Canada may offer the new vaccine, the flu vaccine and the RSV vaccine all in one go.
Hmm…..wonder what the side effects of all that at once might be.

Posted by
6788 posts

SJ - There's currently a big push to encourage people to get vaccinated against a variety of illnesses, with the trifecta of COVID, Flu and RSV leading the pack (all respiratory illnesses that my lungs hope to avoid) - basic Public Health measures. It seems public health officials have decided that for whatever reasons (convenience, hesitancy, short attention-spans, whatever) they can get more people vaccinated against more diseases if they just jab you with as many vaccines as they can once you're there, which kind of makes sense (although I'm not sure I want my arm that sore...I'd rather go back a few times).

From what I've read, it seems they researched getting the COVID and Flu vaccines together (separate shots, but on the same pharmacy visit) and have concluded there's no downsides (other than maybe a sore bicep). The RSV vaccine is quite new, and it sounds like they may not have as much data (yet) to make a firm recommendation about getting all three at the same time. I suspect in the coming weeks/months they will gain enough confidence in their data to push a bit harder for all 3 together.

Personally, I got the RSV shot about 9 days ago (no big deal). I'm getting my COVID shot in 4 days (so for me it'll be almost, but not quite, 2 weeks between those vaccinations). I'm waiting until mid- to late-October to get the flu shot (waiting on the timing on that one since the main flu season is later and many health experts suggest it's better to have that one around Halloween so peak protection coincides with peak flu season, rather than protection peaking too early). I also prefer not to make my arm feel like a pincushion with 3 jabs on the same day - the pharmacy isn't far away and it's easy enough to get to. YMMV.

Caveat: I am not a medical professional (though I am married to one!) and I'm not giving out medical advice. Be wary of following any medical advice dispensed by strangers on the internet...

Posted by
3236 posts

Hi David,
Yes, I think I will space mine out too.
I don’t usually get side effects from any type of vaccine, but three all on the same day sounds a bit much!

Stay healthy everyone, vaccinated or not.

Posted by
271 posts

Looking forward to it!! It reduces infection, severity, duration, hospitalization rates and death. Less risk and more fun! Count me in!

Posted by
4174 posts

I'm amazed that anyone wouldn't get one.

I scheduled the high dose flu vaccine and the Moderna new Covid vaccine called Spikevax for my husband and I next week on the 19th at Walgreens. Last year we got the Moderna bivalent and the high dose flu vaccine both on 11/1. He got both shots in the same arm. I got a jab in each arm. Both approaches worked for us. He was 74 then and I was 76.

Our kids and hence their kids apparently didn’t get any Covid vaccines or didn't follow through with boosters and the 5 of them got Covid last fall. They were all very sick and still have some lingering long Covid symptoms. Our son-in-law was the sickest. He and our daughter are in their early 50's. It was a repeat performance for the family of a few years ago when the parents refused the flu vaccines. Again, all got very sick with the flu that fall with long severe cases. After that our daughter swore they'd get flu vaccinations every year, but I guess the swearing didn’t include Covid 19.

We got our initial Moderna Covid vaccinations in the early spring of 2021 and the follow-up boosters the following fall and in April 2022. I made it through my RS Best of Ireland tour without catching it, but on my second day in Wales I had a mild fever and tested positive. I'm sure it was the variant(s) buzzing around the UK at the time. I'd been masking all along and continued to do so the rest of the trip. I was often the only person wearing a mask. I felt fine after that first day, but it took 2 weeks for me to test negative. I'm sure that following the thorough vaccination regimen is what kept me from getting very sick.

I won't be traveling overseas this year. We will probably go to WA in the summer. No matter where we are, if a little poke can help us avoid the worst of a bad virus or avoid it completely, even my needle-phobic husband will get the shot(s). As for me, if I was afraid of getting shots (or having frequent blood draws) I wouldn't still be on the right side of the grass and continuing to plan for another European trip before I hang up my passport. 🙂

Posted by
2497 posts

We will be getting the flu shot and the latest covid vaccine but will space them out as someone said. with the flu shot after Halloween. We have had 6 of the covid shots so far with the latest jab in late May. On our trip to Alaska in early June, three of our party got covid. My husband and I did not get covid despite close exposure. And I hate needles but a little discomfort from the shots is better than the alternative. My cousin’s wife has long covid. Did she receive any covid vaccinations? Nope. Enough said.

Posted by
3236 posts

When I came down with Covid in Italy last year, I firmly believe that I would have been much more ill had I not had all my vaccines and boosters beforehand.
I hope none of us will have to hang up our passports for many years to come!

I’m sure this thread may be shut down soon.

Posted by
6788 posts

Hang up my passport?!

When they pry it from my cold, dead hands...

Posted by
4012 posts

I’m going to Germany on Monday, September 18 so I couldn’t wait for this new release. Instead, I got a second dose of the bivalent vaccine 4 weeks ago so I at least I have some protection in my system. It had been 11 months since I was vaccinated with the bivalent as I got that vaccine as soon as it came out.

I have packed N95s for my trip including a couple for the flight to FRA & for the DB train.

Posted by
173 posts

My flight to Europe is September 26. This is a partial copy of my post on the topic/thread "Covid has reared its ugly head".
My experience regarding my attempt to get the latest Covid vaccine that is not a booster:
I had an appointment last Friday September 15 at my local CVS in the Chicago suburbs for the vax. I have Medicare Advantage. My plan's rep, by phone, assured me that there would be no out-of-pocket cost for me. The CVS pharmacy tech told me that my insurance had not yet updated its system and I would have to pay $199 to CVS then submit a form to my insurance to request possible reimbursement. I walked out without the vax. Back at home, my local PCP's nurse, by phone, told me to try a different pharmacy, and that they were recommending the new Covid vaccine for approved clients (those over 5 or 6 yrs old, depending on Moderna or Pfizer). I found articles online where CVS on the east coast was cancelling appointments for customers due to insurance system glitches.
I have an appointment today at my local Walgreens. I called before making the appointment. The pharmacist told me to bring my insurance and medicare cards for verification and that they can enter a code if the system does not at first indicate acceptance of my insurance plan at zero out-of-pocket. My face mask is ready and my fingers are crossed.

Posted by
6788 posts

I got jabbed yesterday (Sunday 9/17). The pharmacy already had my insurance info on record (confirmed as part of the online appointment scheduling task). The bureaucracy was about as minimal as it could get: they sent me a text to confirm I was on site, which I responded to 5 minutes before jab time. I walk up to the pharmacy counter, employee looks at me and asks what I need. I said I was here for a COVID vaccination. Asked my name and date of birth. He pointed to a chair, told me to sit there and he would be right over. As he approached I asked him to confirm this was the new Moderna release, he did (told me that once a new vaccine is cleared, all the old stuff is de-certified and unavailable). He jabbed me, stuck a bandaid on my arm, told me I was free to go. I waved my CDC COVID vax card, he chuckled and shook his head ("we're done with those"). Off I went.

He never checked my ID or anything else, other than verbally asking name and DOB. I was in and out of there in under 5 minutes.
Business as usual.

Posted by
173 posts

David - your experience yesterday had been my experience for all prior vaccinations up until my attempt Friday. Since CVS has my information already in its system, they have a record of my insurance, my prior vaccination dates, and I had answered all the questions and signed off on having read the warnings during the online registration process. I typically arrive early and am in and out in minutes, exiting before my scheduled appointment time. I will admit it was a different CVS location than I have used in the past. Many families getting flu shots. We'll see how it goes this morning at Walgreens.

Posted by
173 posts

Success this morning at Walgreens! I got the new Spikevax (from Moderna -not a booster)- According to the pharmacist, many pharmacies across the US are having difficulty getting medicare approval for those of us who show up to our pre-arranged appointments. I was denied insurance coverage Friday and turned away from my CVS appointment even though I had called to confirm coverage with my medicare advantage plan before completing the online appointment reservation. I was told this morning that I was that Walgreens location first medicare client to get the new vaccine and that now they know what code to enter to get medicare to approve the coverage. I'm now looking forward to Paris next week.

Posted by
226 posts

My Parents and I got ours as we're leaving in about two weeks abroad. I have been keeping us up to date in our vaccines.

Posted by
783 posts

After my husband was told by Walgreens that he was not covered when he showed up for his Covid vaccine appointment yesterday, I called both CVS and Walgreens. Both pharmacies in the San Francisco East Bay claimed as of yesterday that they won't accept Kaiser Senior Advantage (Medicare) plan.

Posted by
2237 posts

Trying to get the booster this week took a lot of effort. Three cancelled appointments. Then I had an appt on Wednesday, so Tuesday evening I called to be sure they actually had it, and they did. When I went on Wednesday to Marysville for it, the lady explained Walgreens system. Apparently they have hub stores where the shipments come in to, an the other locations have to actually send someone to the hub store to pick up the vaccine. So the Marysville store manager went and got it for their store. The hard part is with all the staffing shortages, to find someone to go get it vs being on the floor working at the store.

A friend was telling me about her daughter who is a physician. She went to the Edmonds Walgreens and they had the vaccine, but her insurance was not paying for it. She offered to pay out of pocket and they would not allow that. So she left without a jab. This was on Monday afternoon.

So I thoroughly expected the insurance issue to rear it's ugly head as we have Tricare, but everything went smooth. I will say that of all the Covid shots I have had, this is the only one that really made my arm sore. I can still feel it, but it is tapering off thankfully.

Posted by
120 posts

Husband & I are traveling soon & we want the new covid vaccine – signs say available but when we ask – it is not darn it!

This went smoothly when the government gave us the vaccine – privatized now…

Posted by
579 posts

The NYT has a story today about how unprepared the insurance companies and pharmacies are despite being told months ago that the vaccine would be approved in mid-September. It's apparently a nationwide problem.

Posted by
7 posts

Dropped by my neighborhood Safeway pharmacy here in Tacoma WA to pick up a prescription yesterday. The friendly pharmacist asked me if I also wanted the new COVID vaccination and if so , which brand. No appointment necessary, but a 10 minute wait in the waiting room so they could call Medicare for formal approval because even though I am Medicare and “it’s been approved for us for free” they said the system is bogged down and it would be prudent to get the approval. Which they received. A pleasant surprise…

Posted by
111 posts

As some others have posted, getting the booster at CVS was a problem. The pharmacist said my Medicare Part B was rejecting it and he said my insurance had not updated the coding. He told me to try next week. I called my insurance to get the story and the rep said I was definitely covered so she called my CVS. The rep confirmed my coverage with them and advised them to call the Help Desk (for Medicare I am guessing?) to help them sort out their billing issue. I read on this forum that members have had better luck at Walgreen’s. I went there today and was successful in getting the booster. Getting the RSV vaccine was another matter! The pharmacist couldn’t get that one to go through.

Posted by
120 posts

My husband and I had not had Covid. We had gotten all vaccines and had flown since the vaccine became available; always wearing a mask on the planes.

We (USA) sadly couldn’t get any Covid vaccine before for our 2-week October RS trip to Greece - we flew out this Sept. 30th for the 1st of 3 flights.

My husband and I have had all our vaccines before this Greece trip – last year was easy – September 2022 vaccine and October 2022 RS trip to Germany and Austria – no problems

This year was very SAD. We only got 2 days of our 2-week RS Greece tour because of Covid - we wore a mask on the plane, except for eating of course – because of the timing we guess the plane is where we caught Covid.

We’ve been pretty sick with tiredness and coughing lasting long after no logger testing positive.

We received our RS travel refund in today’s mail. The RS people have been very kind and helpful.

Hope the travel guard trip insurance people are too.

We trust we are protected from having had Covid for our upcoming Thanksgiving flight to be with family and as always, we will wear mask on the plane. We plan to get the Covid vaccine in March for our April RS trip to Paris and the heart of France.

Good luck everyone.

Posted by
927 posts

I guess we are fortunate. Both my wife and I received our Flu, Covid and RSV vaccinations last Saturday. Didn't seem to be any issues.

Posted by
1449 posts

FYI, I got covid and flu shots on same day, no problem
Then I tried to get the rsv shot . I'm 60, with pre existing conditions, but Blue Cross would not cover. (Cost would have been more thsn $300 )
Had long chat w one if my doctors, her theory is that insurers are just running behind the times, there maybe a change after January 1st

Posted by
764 posts

My partner and I received all 3 shots at the same time several weeks ago. It was a walk up with no one in line with our favorite pharmacist (CVS inside a Target). All were completely free through Medicare Part D (we have supplemental plan G).

Posted by
8635 posts

No pharmacy where I live will give an RSV shot without a doctor's prescription, even if you meet the age or pre-exisiting condition requirement.

Posted by
675 posts

We had a COVID booster in August, so we have been holding off on the new version.

Both COVID and flu shots are given at our clinic, while their attached pharmacy gives the RSV vaccine (due to insurance is what they told me). After I got my flu shot, I walked over to the pharmacy desk and scheduled our RSV vaccines. For some reason, I decided to ask if there was any cost. She ran it through insurance and was shocked to see our insurance didn't cover it, and we would have have to pay over $300. She said I was the first customer she had seen that had zero insurance coverage for the shot. I cancelled the appointments and went home and read my policy, and like Stan said, it needed to be prescribed.

We don't have Medicare Part D because I have lifetime supplemental insurance with usually good prescription coverage from my former employee. I'll ask my doctor about the RSV vaccine the next time I see her.

Posted by
2585 posts

I finally got the Moderna booster yesterday at my local CVS pharmacy -- had been trying to get an appt within their app since beginning of October, was able to choose this opening just over a week ahead.
Anecdotally, I hear of more people having a reaction to the Pfizer than to the Moderna,
and the pharmacist even said to me after the shot that there's no need for me to wait around for the just-in-case 15 minutes.