Chicagoans will soon have access to updated COVID-19 vaccine

An updated COVID-19 vaccine was approved Tuesday by the FDA and will soon be available to all Chicagoans once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gives the go-ahead, health officials say.

The new vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna were specifically created to cover the latest subvariants circulating in the United States, including XBB.1.5 and EG.5, said Dr. Geraldine Luna, medical director for the Chicago Department of Public Health.

XBB.1.5, a descendant of Omicron, is no longer the main strain in circulation, but research shows the new shots should protect against EG.5, currently dominant, and other strains.

"We already have the vaccine in Chicago," Luna said. "We are just waiting for the CDC to make their final recommendations before we begin the rollout."

Existing vaccines will no longer be available. Everyone is asked to wait for the newest shot to be released.

But the wait won’t be long. Later this week, the CDPH will announce a full list of vaccination sites and any other information people may need.

Who is eligible for the vaccine? Everyone.

Anyone 6 months or older is eligible to get a shot, and it will be free to anyone who lives in Chicago, Luna said.

The vaccine will be made available to everyone regardless of legal or health insurance status.

"We want to make sure that everybody has the same access to the vaccine," Luna said.

Those with insurance can receive the vaccine at any pharmacy or from their primary care physicians.

As flu season approaches, it is safe and is recommended that people receive both the COVID vaccine and the flu shot. And it’s recommended that older adults also receive the R.S.V. shot.

However, Luna recommends that anyone with immune compromised health should consult a doctor before receiving any vaccine.