Residents in North Carolina are preparing for their updated COVID-19 vaccinations. CVS Pharmacy on Hillsborough Road in Durham is one of the first locations to receive the first batch of the new vaccines. They recently received 70 doses of the updated vaccine. Miranda Brown, a college student, was at the CVS shopping for cold medicine after catching a cold while at school in Virginia. Brown understands the inconvenience of getting sick unexpectedly and wants to stay on top of her health to minimize missed days of class. She plans on getting the vaccine, but will wait a couple of weeks until she is feeling better.
The new shots specifically target a subvariant of omicron called XBB, which is closely related to over 90% of COVID viruses currently circulating, according to the CDC. Dr. David Wohl, an infectious disease professor at UNC, explains that the good news is that the new shots should be effective against this variant. Being up to date on vaccines can also help reduce the risk of long COVID and its associated health issues. Brown believes it is important to get vaccinated to protect herself, her loved ones (including her grandfather), and her immunocompromised classmates and professors.
This year, there have been slight changes in how COVID-19 vaccines are covered in the United States. The federal government aims to ensure that everyone can receive the vaccines for free. The program will cover the costs for pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS to provide the shots for free. In addition, Pfizer and Moderna will donate a certain number of doses. The CVS on Hillsborough Street in Durham has already started taking appointments and will provide walk-ins as long as supplies last.