Updated COVID-19 vaccine expected to be available next week in Chicago

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The updated fall 2023 vaccine targets currently circulating strains of the virus and will be available to everyone at no cost, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times (file)

The updated COVID-19 vaccine will be available in Chicago by next week, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Doses of the vaccine were expected to begin shipping this week and be available within five to 12 days at clinics and pharmacies throughout Chicago, according to the department.

At Walgreens, appointments can be scheduled immediately and will begin nationwide starting Sept. 18, according to a spokesperson with the drugstore chain.

“We have heard the vaccine has started to make its way to Chicago,” said Gira Patel, projects administrator for the Department of Public Health. “We haven’t seen it come in from the orders that we placed earlier in the week, but it has started to make it to some of the retail facilities.”

People with private health insurance, Medicaid or Medicare coverage should go to a pharmacy or doctor’s office to get the updated vaccine, the department said. People who are uninsured or underinsured can visit a federally qualified health clinic.

Uninsured individuals can get the updated vaccine at one of the department’s three immunization clinics: the Greater Lawn clinic, 4150 W. 55th St; Uptown WIC clinic, 845 W. Wilson Ave. and Lower West clinic, 1713 S. Ashland Ave. People without insurance also may attend the department’s family COVID-19 and flu vaccination clinics held at City Colleges from Oct. 7 to Nov. 18.

Vaccinations will be available at no cost, regardless of whether someone has insurance or their immigration status, according to the department.

Major pharmacies participating in the Federal Bridge Access Program — a program that provides free COVID-19 vaccines for uninsured and underinsured adults through the end of 2024 — will also be providing the updated vaccine.

The new vaccine targets currently circulating strains of the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In addition to the updated vaccine, the department is also encouraging everyone over 6 months old to get their annual flu shots.

“We need to protect ourselves not only for COVID-19, we need the protection also for influenza and for RSV,” Dr. Geraldine Luna, a medical director with the department, said at a news conference Thursday.


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