A new COVID-19 vaccine, in response to the omicron variant XBB.1.5., was made available on September. This vaccine has received approval from both the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC currently recommends that all individuals aged six months and older receive this updated vaccine for the upcoming fall and winter season.
Although the Student Health Center (SHC) does not currently possess the new vaccine, they have submitted an application to become a provider. Dr. Emilio Carranco, director of the Student Health Center and assistant vice president for student affairs, expressed the SHC’s intention to make the new vaccine available as soon as possible.
“We’re hopeful that we’ll receive it within the next week or two,” Carranco stated. “If you wish to get vaccinated at the health center, you can schedule an appointment for vaccination online or call the main number, regardless of which student health center facility you plan to visit.”
Rodney Rohde, professor and chair of the Clinical Laboratory Science Program at Texas State, believes that obtaining this new vaccine could help reduce COVID-19 cases on campus. He mentioned that current research and epidemiology indicate the updated vaccine’s effectiveness against the variants responsible for the majority of COVID cases in the U.S. While none of the circulating variants are exact matches to the vaccine, they are closely related to the XBB.1.5 strain upon which it is based.
Unlike previous COVID-19 vaccines provided for free, Carranco noted that the newest vaccine is expensive, estimating a cost of “well over” $100 per dose. However, they expect most private health insurance plans to cover the cost, as it has received FDA and CDC approval.
For those without insurance or unable to afford the new vaccine, Carranco recommends exploring the Bridge Access Program, which offers free vaccines through select pharmacies and federally qualified community and health centers.
The new COVID-19 vaccine is referred to as an “updated” vaccine rather than a booster, aligning with the idea that COVID-19 vaccination should become a regular part of healthcare, akin to annual flu shots. Rohde emphasized this shift in terminology aims to convey that it’s not merely boosting existing immunity but establishing a new immune response against current variants.
While the SHC typically follows CDC recommendations, Carranco noted that there is a consensus among medical experts that this vaccine should primarily target individuals aged 50 and older, those with chronic underlying health conditions, and individuals with weakened immune systems.
Carranco added, “Those are populations at the highest risk for complications from a COVID-19 infection… However, we do know that younger individuals have been hospitalized with complications, so anyone interested in protecting themselves should consider vaccination.”
Rachel Torres, an accounting freshman, mentioned having received the initial two COVID-19 vaccines and currently has no plans to update them. She cited concerns about the pain associated with vaccination and needle aversion.
Carranco pointed out that over the past three years, an estimated 96% of the population has developed immunity through infection or vaccination, contributing to herd immunity. Nonetheless, Carranco emphasized that COVID-19 remains a concern, and there is still value in younger individuals getting vaccinated as it’s the safest method to build immunity against the virus.
“I believe we’re in a much better position regarding COVID-19 than just a year ago,” Carranco noted. “Still, I believe individuals should take reasonable precautions to protect themselves and others, especially those at higher risk.”
Walk-In Vaccination Schedule
For those who prefer spontaneity or have busy schedules, Walgreens offers walk-in COVID-19 vaccination appointments. This means you can simply visit your nearest Walgreens pharmacy without a prior appointment and receive your vaccination. Walk-in availability may vary depending on your location and vaccine supply, so it’s advisable to check with your local Walgreens store for specific walk-in hours.
Online Appointment Booking
To streamline the vaccination process and minimize wait times, Walgreens provides an online appointment booking system. Here’s how you can schedule your COVID-19 vaccination online:
Step 1: Visit the Walgreens Website
- Open your web browser and visit the official Walgreens website.
Step 2: COVID-19 Vaccination Page
- Navigate to the COVID-19 vaccination page on the Walgreens website. This page is dedicated to providing information and scheduling vaccinations.
Step 3: Eligibility Check
- Before scheduling an appointment, you’ll need to check your eligibility. Ensure you meet the criteria set by your state or local health department for COVID-19 vaccination.
Step 4: Find a Location
- Enter your zip code or city to find the nearest Walgreens vaccination site. You can choose the location that is most convenient for you.
Step 5: Select a Date and Time
- Browse through the available dates and times for appointments at your chosen Walgreens location. Pick the slot that suits your schedule.
Step 6: Provide Information
- You’ll be prompted to enter your personal information, including your name, contact details, and any relevant health information.
Step 7: Confirm Your Appointment
- Review all the information you’ve provided and confirm your appointment. You may receive an email or text confirmation with appointment details.
Step 8: Attend Your Appointment
- On the day of your appointment, make sure to bring identification and any required documents. Follow the instructions provided by Walgreens staff for a smooth and efficient vaccination process.