What to Know about the New COVID-19 Boosters for the Fall/Winter SeasonCoronavirus (COVID-19)
COVID-19 cases, along with hospitalizations, are increasing. To protect you and your loved ones against severe Covid illness, the federal government has approved updated Covid vaccines for everyone six months of age and older.
The boosters are formulated to better protect against circulating variants, says Lee Health Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Stephanie Stovall, Chief Clinical Officer of Quality/Safety and Hospital-Based Care.
“These updated vaccines are an important line of defense, especially for individuals who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 disease,” Dr. Stovall says. “The vaccines, which update the current Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech formulations, also target recent circulating variants of the XBB lineage.”
Dr. Stovall says vaccination remains the best protection against severe Covid disease.
“Vaccination also reduces your chance of suffering the effects of Long Covid, which can develop during or following acute infection and last for an extended duration. If you haven’t received a COVID-19 vaccine in the past two months, get an updated COVID-19 vaccine to protect yourself this fall and winter,” Dr. Stovall says.
The virus that causes Covid is always changing, and protection from vaccines declines over time, Dr. Stovall explains. Receiving an updated COVID-19 vaccine can restore protection and provide enhanced protection against the variants currently responsible for the uptick in infections and hospitalizations.
“Last season, people who received a 2022-2023 vaccine experienced better protection against illness and hospitalization than those who didn’t get a 2022-2023 vaccine,” Dr. Stovall notes. “Hundreds of millions of people have safely received a COVID-19 vaccine under the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the highest rates of hospitalizations are in people 75 and older, followed by children under six months, and then adults between the ages of 65 to 74.
“COVID-19 is still around,” Dr. Stovall says. “The recent increase in infections and hospitalizations shows it’s still capable of infecting a lot of people.”
Most Americans can still get a Covid vaccine for free. For people with health insurance, most plans will cover a vaccine at no cost to you.
“If it's been at least two months since your last booster, you can go ahead and get the new one,” Dr. Stovall advises. “If you’re in a high-risk category, don’t wait.”
Yes, you can get a flu vaccine and a Covid vaccine at the same time. "It's absolutely fine to do both at the same time," Dr. Stovall says.
People who don’t have health insurance or with health plans that don’t cover the cost can get a free vaccine from their local health centers, state, local, tribal, or territorial health departments, and pharmacies participating in the CDC’s Bridge Access Program. Children eligible for the Vaccines for Children program also may receive the vaccine from a provider enrolled in that program.
For more information on where to get the no-cost vaccinations, visit the CDC’s vaccine site here.
Schedule a vaccine appointment (ages 18+) with your Lee Physician Group provider here.
Schedule a vaccine appointment for your child here.
Lee Health outpatient pharmacies expect to receive their supply of the updated COVID-19 vaccine soon. Check back for updates or talk to your pharmacist.