Here's everything San Antonians need to know about the new COVID-19 vaccines

Unlike previous COVID-19 vaccines, the public will have to pay for these, although most insurance companies plan to cover some or all of the cost.

click to enlarge A healthcare worker issues a COVID-19 booster. - Wikimedia Commons / paramsach
Wikimedia Commons / paramsach
A healthcare worker issues a COVID-19 booster.

On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration approved new COVID-19 shots, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quickly recommended that anyone six months or older roll up their sleeves for a jab.

Dr. Jason Bowling, director of hospital epidemiology at University Health, said San Antonio residents should consider getting the shot because waning immunity could mean more severe cases for people who contract the virus again.

"The problem is that you can still get another infection because protection from natural immunity doesn't last very long," Bowling said. "The other problem is that repeat infections may be more severe than the prior infections you had or can lead to a case of long COVID, even if you haven't had that before."

Here's everything you need to know about the 2023-2024 COVID vaccine.

Is it a booster?

Some have described the new shots as boosters, but that's not really the case, according to Bowling. Instead, the new shots offered by Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax are the first not to include the original COVID-19 strain. In other words, it's a completely new shot.

Instead of fighting against the original strain, these COVID-19 shots will fight against the new omicron variants. Although the vaccines won't include the BA.2.86 stain that's raising alarm bells among health professionals, Bowling said clinical trials have show that the shots are effective against that strain.

Do I Really Need Another Shot?

The vast majority of Americans have been vaccinated, with a good chunk of the population receiving three shots so far. That begs the question: Do I really need another shot?

According to Bowling, the answer is yes.

Although COVID-19 cases in Bexar County declined for the first time last week since June, Bowling warns that waves of infections can be unpredictable. What's more, University Health is anticipating another surge in cases this winter as people spend more time indoors.

Where and When Can I Get One?

Although University Health and other organizations have placed orders from Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax, it could be a week or two until shipments arrive, according to Bowling.

Once University Health receives the vaccine, however, it plans to provide them at all its outpatient pharmacies. People can also check with their healthcare providers for details on how to receive the vaccine.

Unlike previous COVID-19 vaccines, the public will have to pay for this one, though, with Pfizer and Moderna saying that the shots will cost somewhere between $110-$130, as reported this week in Money Magazine. However, most insurance companies will cover the shots, Bowling said.

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Michael Karlis

Michael Karlis is a Staff Writer at the San Antonio Current. He is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., whose work has been featured in Salon, Alternet, Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, Orlando Weekly, NewsBreak, 420 Magazine and Mexico Travel Today. He reports primarily on breaking news, politics...

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