The rollout of the fourth round of the COVID vaccine has begun in Massachusetts. The latest version, known as the COVID vaccine XBB. 1.5, is now officially available. However, local hospitals and clinics may not have the vaccine for several more days or weeks. National chains like CVS and Walgreens already have the vaccine in stock across the state.
To get the vaccine, you can visit the websites of CVS and Walgreens to book an appointment or you can choose to walk in. Demand for the vaccine may not be high this time around, as only 17% of eligible individuals received the previous booster shot. The CDC recommends that everyone aged six months and older should get the new vaccine if it has been at least two months since their last COVID shot.
Experts suggest that higher-risk individuals should get the vaccine as soon as possible. However, for healthy young adults and children, it is not as urgent. Some experts advise getting the vaccine along with the flu shot before flu season and the holidays later in the fall.
It is important to note that while the federal government no longer covers the cost of the vaccines, individuals with health insurance should still be able to get them for free. Those without insurance can also receive the shots for free from certain locations through at least the end of 2024.
In other news, Green Line riders in Massachusetts should expect disruptions as two Green Line stations will be closed for 25 days. Haymarket station is closed due to ongoing demolition work on the Government Center Garage. Riders will need to walk a distance of three-quarters of a mile between North Station and Government Center, or switch to the nearby Orange Line. Union Square station in Somerville is also closed due to MassDOT work on the Route 28 Squires Bridge. Alternative transportation options include taking local buses or the Green Line Extension’s Medford/Tufts branch.
Drivers using the Bourne Bridge can expect delays as repair work begins and traffic is reduced to one lane in each direction. The repair work is expected to last until late November.
Cambridge Health Alliance has reinstated a mask mandate at its facilities for patients, staff, and visitors. This mandate is expected to remain in place throughout flu and cold season. Masks will be available for visitors in the lobbies of CHA locations.
Lastly, Governor Maura Healey will be announcing new climate plans during a keynote speech at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York today.
1. WBUR Today’s Morning Newsletter – WBUR
2. NPR – New Vaccine Questions Answered – NPR