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New COVID-19 boosters are approved, but Louisville-area availability still spotty

Volunteers at LouVax are shown in this March 2021 photo.
Baptist Health and Norton Healthcare have begun offering the new bivalent COVID-19 boosters, which target the omicron variant.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week approved updated COVID-19 vaccine boosters that target the most common omicron variant strains. 

Pfizer boosters are available to those 12 and older, with Moderna offered to those 18 and older. Patients must have completed their initial vaccine series to get the updated boosters and be at least two months out from their most recent shot. Those who previously had a first or second booster can still get the new shots if two months have passed. 

The CDC previously recommended initial vaccines for children 6 months and older, with boosters for those 5 and older. Those too young for the updated boosters will be given the original formula. People eligible for updated boosters do not have the option to get the original. 

But even though the omicron-specific boosters are now federally approved, not all Louisville-area providers have started giving the new shots, as some await vaccine shipments or finalize rollout plans.

Here’s what WFPL News has confirmed so far. 

Health care organizations 

Carrie Regnier, director of COVID-19 at Norton Healthcare, said the organization expects to receive its first doses by early next week, with appointments opening Sept. 19 at adult primary care offices and Norton Prompt Care at Walgreens. Appointments through pediatric primary care and specialty providers are expected to go live Sept. 26. Scheduling can be done on or after those dates at nortonhealthcare.com or nortonchildrens.com, or by calling a primary care provider.

“I think that vaccines, still through all of the evidence we've seen, have been our best defense against the COVID-19 virus and getting back to more of a sense of normalcy,” she said. 

Regnier said Norton is working to reschedule anyone who had appointments for the original booster so they will instead receive the new formula. 

Norton will host vaccine clinics from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Oct. 1 and 8, during which they’ll offer the new boosters and flu shots. 

“That's going to be a great opportunity for people to do kind of one-stop-shop, get both their vaccines at the same time,” Regnier said. 

A representative with the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness said Wednesday the department is awaiting more information from the state on when they will be able to offer the new boosters. Once they're available, patients will need to schedule appointments for immunization clinics. 

Baptist Health did not have information on new booster availability. A representative with UofL Health said the system is finalizing plans for the boosters, and that patients should contact primary care providers and Urgent Care Plus locations for vaccines. 

Southern Indiana 

Health departments in Clark and Floyd counties are offering updated boosters for Indiana residents in eligible age groups. They’re taking walk-ins only, as the scheduling website the state uses was not updated for appointments for the new boosters as of Wednesday. Floyd County Health Officer Dr. Tom Harris said he expects the website to be updated by this weekend. 

Clark County Health Officer Dr. Eric Yazel said the health department received 300 doses each of the Pfizer and Moderna boosters, which they began providing this week. 

“It’s been really steady with walk-in traffic,” he said, adding this initial response may mean greater interest in this round of boosters. 

The Floyd County Health Department will also host a walk-in booster clinic this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Indiana University Southeast, 4201 Grant Line Road in New Albany. 

Health department walk-ins are happening at 1201 Wall St. in Jeffersonville and 1917 Bono Road in New Albany. 

Retail pharmacies 

Walgreens announced last week the pharmacy chain  would be offering updated boosters. However, the timing of availability depends on store location, with some ready as early as today. Check here for availability by location and to schedule a shot. 

CVS pharmacies showed appointments available as early as Wednesday at multiple locations in the Louisville area. Here’s how to schedule. 

Aprile Rickert is LPM's Southern Indiana reporter. Email Aprile at arickert@lpm.org.

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