Here's how to get a new COVID-19 shot

On the heels of federal regulators approving updated COVID-19 vaccines last week, medical providers and retail pharmacies are in the midst of a mass rollout of shots.

"It's super-important people receive the new vaccine because the virus mutates over time," CVS Pharmacy Leader Atenea Gazdziak said Monday.

"The second reason it's important to revaccinate everyone is because the protection the vaccine offers wanes over time."

Here's the latest on the new vaccines.

• Unlike 2021, when mass COVID-19 vaccination facilities opened up across the state, the 2023 shots are being offered at doctor's offices, clinics and retail drugstores. If you need help finding a vaccine provider, go to

Currently, major pharmacies including CVS and Walgreens are accepting appointments for COVID-19 shots.

• The CDC cleared the vaccine for all individuals 6 months and older. However, some drugstores are currently only offering shots for older children. The American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommends COVID-19 vaccinations for kids, advised parents of small children to check with their pediatricians on scheduling shots.

• Experts are also advising Illinoisans to get their flu vaccines early and noted it's safe to combine those with COVID-19 shots.

The flu season "officially starts in October and it lasts through May, but the vaccines are recommended to be administered starting now," Gazdziak said. "It's ideal for people to be vaccinated before Halloween because it takes about two weeks to get that full immunity."

The mother of three young children tells them it's "flu before boo. It gives them something to look forward to after the vaccine," she said.

• With COVID-19 public health emergencies over, the federal government is no longer paying for universal vaccines.

But "for people with health insurance, most plans will cover the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost," the Illinois Department of Public Health said.

"People who don't have health insurance or with health plans that do not cover the cost can get a free vaccine from their local health centers and pharmacies."

• The CDC launched the Bridge Access Program this summer that covers vaccines through late 2024. A resource for unvaccinated kids is the Vaccines for Children Program.

• The updated vaccines are manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna. The new shot was developed to protect against the "Kraken" strain of COVID-19, XBB. 1.5, that emerged in the winter. It's also expected to work well against current variants that are circulating.

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