Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced that Chicago is rolling out two updated COVID-19 vaccines designed specifically to target the Omicron subvariants, in light of final approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The vaccines will be available this week to Chicago residents 12 years and older who have already completed a primary vaccine series.
“Today, we are taking a new step to ensure every resident can continue to be protected against COVID-19 and all of its subvariants,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “This updated vaccine is critical to our ongoing fight against this pandemic and will help to keep our residents and their communities as healthy as possible.”
“This is big news. These updated vaccines will be a huge help in our efforts to get ahead of the virus this fall and protect residents from the strains we see in Chicago and across the nation right now,” said CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady, M.D. “These vaccines are the best possible match to the variants currently circulating, which may not be true a few months down the line, so I urge everyone who is eligible to get yours as soon as possible.”
The City of Chicago has already been allocated approximately 150,000 doses of the updated vaccines, with more following in the coming weeks. For those who need help finding a nearby site, Vaccines.gov is a free online service that you can use to search for pharmacies and providers that offer vaccination. Residents can also call the City’s COVID-19 call center at 312-746-4835.
The new vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are being called “bivalent boosters,” meaning they are a mix of two versions of the vaccine — both boosting protection against original coronavirus strain as well as (newly) protecting against the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants. Nearly all (99.8%) of COVID-19 new cases in the U.S. are BA.4 or BA.5.
Key details about the updated vaccines (bivalent boosters):
- These new vaccines are approved for those who have completed their primary series — two doses of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) or one dose of Johnson & Johnson (J&J).
- The Pfizer vaccine is available for those age 12 and up, Moderna age 18 and up.
- The updated vaccines are recommended at least two months following completion of the primary series or booster vaccination.
- Patients can mix-and-match mRNA brands for their primary series, previous booster dose(s), and bivalent booster dose — you can also pair the updated vaccine with your annual flu shot and some other vaccines.
- This updated vaccine will replace current booster doses (monovalent mRNA COVID-19 vaccines) for individuals 12 years of age and older.
- The updated vaccines have met FDA and CDC’s rigorous safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality standards.
Additional answers to frequently asked questions about the new vaccine will continue to be updated at Chicago.gov/Boost.
“We know that older adults and immunocompromised patients are most likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19 right now, and I want to especially encourage those individuals to receive the updated vaccine as soon as possible,” added Dr. Arwady. “Throughout the initial rollout, our teams at CDPH are prioritizing our distribution of the updated vaccine to long-term care facilities and other congregate settings.”
There are many ways people can get the updated vaccines. For clinics hosted by CDPH, a $50 gift card may be offered for booster doses, as advertised, depending on availability and eligibility.
- Call or visit your local pharmacy’s website for more information on availability of the updated COVID-19 vaccine. More than 130 pharmacy locations in Chicago are expected to receive the updated vaccine this week:
- CDPH’s in-home vaccination program, Protect Chicago At Home, will offer the updated COVID-19 vaccine, as well as primary doses for anyone age 6 months and up. Appointments for homebound individuals, those age 65 and up, as well as those living in certain zip codes will be prioritized. Up to 10 people can be vaccinated at a time. Make an at-home appointment at Chicago.gov/AtHome or by calling 312-746-4835.
- CDPH will continue to host family vaccination clinics at City Colleges of Chicago through the month of November. These events will offer flu shots, Pfizer and Moderna for children 6 months through 4 years old, as well as Pfizer vaccines and the updated bivalent booster doses to all eligible Chicagoans. Clinics will be open 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Registration is recommended and is available at Chicago.gov/COVIDvax. The first clinics will be held Saturday, Sept. 10 at Olive Harvey College (10001 S. Woodlawn Ave.) and Arturo Velasquez Westside Technical Institute (2800 S. Western Ave.). Walk-ins will be accommodated as space allows.
- CDPH is partnering with aldermen and organizations across all 50 wards to provide flu/COVID-19 vaccination clinics this fall, that will include the updated COVID-19 vaccine. This includes clinics held in partnership with the Department of Family and Support Services at locations serving seniors and other congregate settings. View the full schedule and find an event near you at Chicago.gov/VaxCalendar — events will be added as they are confirmed.
COVID-19 vaccines — including the updated, bivalent boosters — are free, and no government-issued ID or insurance is required. Learn more at Chicago.gov/COVIDvax.