Kaiser says new COVID-19 booster shots coming as early as this week

Members can no longer get the shots for free at drugstores.

A new COVID-19 booster vaccine that was approved in mid-September has yet to reach Kaiser Permanente facilities, but this should change soon.

The Oakland-based healthcare provider announced Friday afternoon that booster shots will be available beginning Monday, September 25. Vaccine appointments for Kaiser members 12 and older will begin on September 28th, according to an email sent to members at 5 p.m.

“Appointments for children under 12 will become available as we receive supply,” the message states.

Walk-in vaccinations will also be available in select locations, according to Kaiser, though it did not specify where.

“We will begin administering updated COVID-19 vaccines in most areas we serve… and possibly earlier at some locations,” Kaiser said earlier Friday to the Southern California News Group.

Also see: If no agreement is reached, Kaiser’s 75,000 union employees will go on strike on October 4th.

On September 11, the FDA approved updated boosters from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech for people aged 12 and up. Under an emergency use order, younger people can get the shots.

The most recent vaccines target a COVID subvariant known as XBB.1.5 Omicron and other coronavirus strains that are closely related.

Some Kaiser members have been waiting for their boosters, the first since fall 2022.

The shortage erupted on Twitter, where Kaiser members expressed their displeasure, noting that their healthcare provider had no boosters and was no longer working with drugstores for the shots.

“I have Kaiser Permanente insurance but they don’t have it available yet so I made appt (sic) at Walgreens,” user Ben Ross wrote. “Walgreens said I had to get it through Kaiser and wouldn’t even let me pay out of pocket!”

Another Kaiser member obtained a booster from CVS but paid $190 for it.

At least one Kaiser member was told by appointment line operators that the COVID booster would be available by late September or early October.

Booster shots and vaccines are provided at no cost by an insurance provider or participating drugstores affiliated with those healthcare providers. When the pandemic’s emergency declaration was lifted earlier this year, federal funding ceased.

See also: Huntington Beach wants to declare itself a ‘no mask and no vaccine mandate’ city.

Kaiser does not participate in the drugstore booster program and advises members to use company facilities for boosters. According to the company, using a Kaiser facility is free.

A federal expert panel recommends that everyone over the age of six months receive the most recent booster. Only 17% of the US population received the most recent booster, compared to roughly half who received the first booster in fall 2021.

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