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COVID Shot Update: Older Adults Should Get Another This Spring, CDC Says

The new recommendation is just for adults 65 and older. Here's what to know about the latest formulas and how to find one if you don't have insurance.

Jessica Rendall Wellness Reporter
Jessica is a writer on the Wellness team with a focus on health technology, eye care, nutrition and finding new approaches to chronic health problems. When she's not reporting on health facts, she makes things up in screenplays and short fiction.
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Jessica Rendall
4 min read
A pair of gloved hands pulls a vaccine dose out of a vial
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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Wednesday that adults age 65 and older get another COVID-19 shot this spring.

Younger adults and children don't need another booster at this time. In a news release, CDC Director Mandy Cohen noted that most hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 have occurred in people age 65 or older, and that this latest recommendation will
"provide added protection that may have decreased over time for those at highest risk." 

People who are immunocompromised may also speak with their doctor about getting another shot, as has been the guidance for people whose health condition puts them on a more case-by-case basis. 

New formulas from Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax have been updated to target a newer version of the omicron variant that's more closely related to current versions of the virus, and they've been available to the masses since fall 2023. The updated formulas are part of a plan announced last year by the US Food and Drug Administration to make COVID-19 vaccines look more like annual flu shots, which are updated each year to be the best match for the circulating virus. 

One important change from last year is that COVID-19 vaccines are no longer purchased by and completely paid for by the federal government. Instead, private and public insurance, as well as programs for uninsured people, should keep them free for everyone, at least through 2024. 

The online vaccine-finder tool is now up and running, and you can use it to find a vaccine of your choice as well as pharmacy locations that are offering shots for people without insurance through the Bridge Access program. 

For more, learn more about how to get free COVID-19 tests, as well as the CDC's reported upcoming change to isolation guidance, as well as what to know about the new RSV shots and when to wait to get your vaccines.

What are the new COVID shots? 

Moderna and Pfizer updated their vaccine formulas to target a newer strain of omicron, XBB.1.5. They're both "monovalent" vaccines, which means they're formulated to go after one strain of the virus, compared with the "bivalent" vaccines that rolled out last fall and targeted both the original COVID-19 virus plus another, older version of omicron. They were fully approved by the FDA for adults and older kids and given emergency use authorization for children ages 6 months through 11 years. 

Novavax, a more traditional vaccine type than the newer mRNA vaccines, also has an updated COVID-19 vaccine, authorized for people age 12 or older

Who can get another booster, and when? 

Older adults age 65 and older are now eligible for another COVID shot, according to the CDC recommendation. The CDC didn't give a specific timing recommendation for older adults in its news release, but according to information presented at the CDC advisory committee meeting before the official recommendation, you should wait at least four months since your last COVID shot to get your spring booster. 

Previous CDC guidance also says you may wait at least three months after being sick with COVID-19 before vaccination.

If you're immunocompromised, you may be eligible for additional COVID-19 shots based on existing CDC guidance, but talk with your doctor. 

The CDC didn't recommend any specific vaccine, so you can choose whichever one you want. As NBC reported, this more specific recommendation gives older adults and people with the highest risk maximum protection ahead of the summer months, when COVID-19 has tended to have its second peak outside winter. 

If you're not age 65 and older, you've been eligible for the same thing since last fall: Adults and kids 5 years and older can get a single updated shot, as long as it's been at least two months since your last vaccine dose, per the FDA's rules on the new formulas. For younger children age 6 months through 4 years, the FDA says the timing and number of doses will depend on any previous COVID-19 vaccine they received. 

Will I have to pay for the COVID vaccine?

One major difference in vaccine rollout now that COVID-19 is no longer considered a public health emergency is that COVID vaccines aren't being purchased by the government. However, the cost of your shot should still be covered either through insurance (private or public) or through a public program.

Insurance plans are expected to cover COVID-19 vaccine costs immediately, according to a presentation this fall from Dr. Georgina Peacock, director of the Immunization Services Division in the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC. People who have Medicare or Medicaid should also have the cost of their vaccine covered. Children who are underinsured should also automatically be covered by the Vaccines for Children program, which covers vaccines that are recommended by ACIP.

For adults who are uninsured or underinsured, the CDC has something called the Bridge Access Program that will allow adults to get shots for free at participating pharmacies, including Walgreens and CVS locations, as well as local health clinics. This program will expire at the end of December this year, but a longer-term solution similar to the Vaccines for Children program is in the works.

To find a participating pharmacy and get a free shot if you're uninsured: 

  • Use the vaccine finder at Vaccines.gov.
  • Click the blue "Find COVID-19 vaccines" button.
  • Enter your ZIP code and select which vaccine you're looking for (adult; Pfizer vs. Moderna, etc.) and click "Search."
  • Under "Only show locations with," click "Participating in Bridge Access Program." From there, choose your location and book your appointment. 
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.