New COVID vaccine starting to be available in N.H.
|Published: 09-13-2023 4:31 PM
Supplies of the updated COVID-19 vaccine have started to arrive in New Hampshire in anticipation of a fall increase in cases, and officials say anybody over the age of 6 months should get one.
The updated vaccine, available from both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, are formulated in response to the evolving SARS-CoV2 virus, in particular a variant of the omicron strain known as XBB.1.5.
Some private pharmacies say they have already received some doses. Concord Hospital health system said it expects to receive doses this week and that “patients can schedule an appointment to receive the vaccine as part of the health system’s annual flu clinics, which begin the first week of October.”
The vaccines are covered by most health insurance plans as well as Medicaid and Medicare. The CDC recommends them for everybody but children under 6 months of age, with some restrictions. Starting at age 5, most people can get a single dose even if they’ve not had a prior COVID-19 shot, while younger children might need additional doses depending on their history of infections and vaccinations.
People can get a flu vaccine at the same time: Centers for Disease Control says there is no difference in effectiveness or side effects if those vaccines are given simultaneously. The CDC urges a yearly flu shot for most people over age 6 months, best given before the end of October.
It is expected that COVID vaccines will follow the route of flu vaccines, with a new formulation offered each summer in response to the changing virus, anticipating a rise in cases as people head indoors over the winter.
The number of patients hospitalized with COVID in New Hampshire has risen to the highest point since mid-March, although it remains far smaller than at the same time in 2022. Other signs of a fall surge have also been muted, with no notable levels of the virus found in sampling of wastewater treatment plants in New Hampshire and Boston.
People over the age of 60 are also advised to get an RSV vaccine, a new vaccine against a respiratory ailment that can be serious in seniors. The CDC has not said whether it is safe and effective to get this vaccine at the same time as the COVID and flu vaccines, however. These vaccines are not covered by all health insurance.