New COVID booster now available in Chicago. Here's what it's like
Boy is my arm sore.
What happened: I got one of the first doses of the new COVID booster that targets Omicron BA. 4 and 5 that now make up all local cases.
- It quietly arrived at local pharmacies this weekend. Some immediately started offering it to walk-in customers — like my mom who called me lickety-split.
Why it matters: Health Commissioner Allison Arwady says the timely uptake of this new booster could prevent another COVID surge this fall.
- It's probably the last one people can get free.
The intrigue: Saturday morning several Walgreens locations told me they had the new vaccine — some got Pfizer, others Moderna — but wouldn't offer it until Wednesday when their online appointments open.
- Walgreens reps did not respond to weekend requests for comment on the walk-in versus appointment discrepancy.
- But a Walgreens press release says, "For the best experience, individuals are encouraged to make appointments."
Context: To speed the distribution of this version, manufacturers were able to skip large-scale human testing.
- When the nurse was giving me my jab and I asked about side effects she said, "Hard to say. They just started giving it to humans yesterday."
My experience: After finding a nearby walk-in Walgreens, I rode my bike over, filled out some forms and got my jab all within 15 minutes.
- Plus I got a bag of eight free home tests covered by my health insurance.
The reaction: I still feel like someone punched me in the shoulder, but otherwise I'm fine as I write this on Monday.
Yes but: I've only ever had mild responses to COVID shots.
The bottom line: Based on uptake of the last two boosters, experts predict that only one-third of fully vaccinated people will get the latest booster.
- Meanwhile, experts say boosters could be our best chance for a more normal holiday season.
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