GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has approved new guidance for the updated COVID-19 booster shots.
The CDC says everyone 6 months and older can get the updated shot if they have not received an older version of the vaccine in the past two months.
With an uptick in COVID-19 cases in West Michigan bringing the virus back into the spotlight, doctors say getting the newest COVID-19 booster will help you protect yourself, your family and your community.
Dr. Andrew Jameson, the medical director of infection control with Trinity Health Grand Rapids, told News 8 the updated vaccine will make a significant impact.
“The older vaccines and the older infections are not doing much at all to prevent new infection,” Jameson said. “People still are not getting nearly as sick as they did, but there still is some severe illness that’s happening in individuals. And we have in fact seen a pretty big uptick in hospitalization.”
Jameson said the vaccine will give people the best protection against the latest form of the virus, which has been mutating since it first appeared.
“I have been telling people, particularly those who are immunocompromised or a little bit older, over the last month to hold off, because the data about this new one was so good,” Jameson said.
In a big change this year, the federal government is no longer covering the cost of every vaccine.
Tena Hoxsie, the vice president of patient financial experience at University of Michigan Health-West, said paying for the vaccine will be comparable to getting a flu shot for those with private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid.
“I believe they are planning to cover it,” Hoxsie said. “I don’t believe there will be a lot of outside or out-of-pocket for patients.”
For the uninsured or underinsured, people will be able to get the booster for free at certain providers through the CDC’s Bridge Access Program, according to Cherry Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Elizabeth Warner.
“Twenty-five to 30 million folks in America do not have any health insurance coverage. And many more than that have health insurance coverage that does not cover vaccinations such as COVID,” Warner said.
While the overall case numbers are nowhere near where they were during the height of the pandemic, doctors say they still see some severe cases. They also say the vaccine will help provide better protection from long-term health effects.
“The vaccine does a lot to prevent long COVID,” Jameson said. “And if you’ve run into anybody that’s had some of those kind of lingering side effects, it’s really annoying. The fatigue, the fog, the breathing issues that can linger are super frustrating.”
Providers expect to receive shipments and start administering the vaccine in the next few days.
To see where you can get the vaccine, you can search on https://www.vaccines.gov/.