This week’s rollout of omicron-specific COVID-19 boosters is low-key compared to the all-out effort of past launches, but appointments are plentiful if you know where to look.
New shots are targeted at the super-contagious but relatively mild form of the virus that has dominated case counts in Maine and worldwide through a chain of subvariants since early this year. The newest shots contain spike proteins more specific to omicron than previous vaccines.
It amounts to the first update for COVID-19 vaccines since the pandemic began. A new Pfizer shot was approved by the federal government last week for people 12 and older. The updated Moderna shot is for those 18 and older. You must get the new booster at least two months after your last vaccine dose.
Maine providers placed initial orders adding up to more 80,000 doses. Here’s what you need to know about getting one.
Appointments are available now and should increase.
There were plenty of appointments available for the new boosters across Maine on Thursday afternoon. Providers said supply should ramp up further over the next few weeks.
As of then, the Hannaford supermarket on Broadway in Bangor was offering morning Moderna appointments through its online portal this Friday through Wednesday. The Union Street location had Pfizer shots available almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the rest of September.
MaineHealth, the state’s largest health provider, had hundreds of appointments available through its portal, mostly in southern Maine, through the end of the month as well.
Brewer-based Northern Light Health has begun scheduling boosters for next week at pharmacy locations in Bangor and Portland. Clinics throughout the system should be ready to administer them by the week of Sept. 19, Northern Light spokesperson Karen Cashman said.
Other pharmacies have begun giving boosters, including CVS Health and Walgreens. Mainers can contact health providers and check the state’s list of vaccine providers for more information. Be sure to confirm there or with the provider that the site you want to visit is offering boosters.
Walk-in clinics are not as big a part of this effort, but there are options.
The big, walk-in clinics that defined the early COVID-19 vaccine effort are fading. While providers continue to schedule appointments, the new shots are being increasingly worked into primary care regimens here and across the country.
The largest-scale walk-in operating now is a York County Emergency Management Agency site in a former Marshalls department store operating Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Providers still may use walk-in clinics if demand is heavy, so keep checking sites in your area if that is what you prefer.