Want the new COVID-19 vaccine booster?  No problem, unless it has to be Moderna

Want the new COVID-19 vaccine booster? No problem, unless it has to be Moderna

If you want the new COVID-19 booster that protects against the latest omicron variants in circulation, you have plenty of options for appointments, unless you have your heart set on Moderna.

People hoping to get Moderna’s version of the new bivalent booster instead of Pfizer’s might have to travel — or wait a bit to get vaccinated.

“The supply of Moderna bivalent boosters is temporarily delayed,” Kaiser’s online planner tells members, though Pfizer boosters will be available in San Jose starting Sept. 27. “If you are looking for a booster, please select Pfizer-BioNTech.”

“We’re sorry, but no Moderna appointments were found within a 25-mile radius,” Walgreens’ online scheduler reported for a downtown San Jose zip code.

RESUME ? Ritual aid? No last.

The new “bivalent” boosters approved by the federal government earlier this month protect against both the original strain of the coronavirus and its newer omicron variants, BA.4 and BA.5. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended booster shots on Sept. 1 for anyone 12 and older at least two months after their last COVID-19 vaccine shot. Those who have recently had a COVID-19 infection are recommended to wait three months before receiving a booster.

But on the Bay Area Vaccine Hunters Facebook group this week, members pleaded for advice on available doses of Moderna and complained about cancellations.

“I had a Moderna callback appointment this Sunday for Safeway in Berkeley,” posted one member, who asked not to be identified, adding that she cannot travel far due to a disability. .

“They just sent me a cancellation email because they are no longer on Moderna. I will get Pfizer if I have to but I would prefer Moderna, does anyone know of any places in Berkeley that book appointments you Moderna this weekend?”

The poster said she preferred Moderna “because the dose size is bigger and I know pretty much what the side effect pattern looks like to me.”

For those who just need to get a Moderna shot, dual booster appointments are available if you look around. One place that had no shortage of supplies was the Santa Clara County Health System where, as of Thursday, there were plenty of online appointments for the Moderna bivalent booster next week.

Dr. Jennifer Tong, deputy chief medical officer at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, said that was partly because they were provided by state and federal governments. Pharmacies are supplied directly by the federal government as part of its vaccination program.

“We received enough to last at least for the next three weeks,” Tong said. “We have placed another order, so we don’t expect a shortage.”

Santa Clara County began giving out the new boosters on September 7 and has continued to fill appointments and see strong demand. Tong said that’s because newer vaccine rollouts have targeted more limited populations, whereas the latest boosters are available for all adults and, for Pfizer’s booster, children 12 and older.

“More people are eligible for this, so it looks like we’re seeing a higher level of interest,” Tong said. “But given the high percentage of people in our county who are now eligible, the level of interest we are seeing is what we expected.”

Moderna’s press office did not respond to questions Thursday about Bay Area booster shortages, and the company has not released any recent statements indicating production or distribution issues. Its website directs those looking for the snaps to the federal government’s online planner. But this indicates the availability in several pharmacies that do not yet have the vaccines.

Spokeswoman Monica Prinzing said “selected CVS Pharmacy sites have administered all of the bivalent COVID-19 Moderna vaccine received from the federal government to date.”

“We are working with the government to acquire more doses of Moderna and continue to offer limited Pfizer and Moderna appointments on CVS.com and through the CVS Pharmacy app,” Prinzing said. “Appointments are updated as the offer is received.”

Kaiser Permanente said in a statement that the health plan is “administering bivalent boosters as supply permits and in accordance with CDC clinical guidelines.”

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