New COVID-19 vaccine will be available for New Yorkers by end of week: Governor Hochul

New York Governor Kathy Hochul announces a new COVID-19 vaccine for New Yorkers starting later this week during a briefing in midtown Manhattan on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023.
Darren McGee/ Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

New Yorkers will be able to get vaccinated with the new COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the week, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced in a briefing Wednesday morning.

The new vaccine is arriving amid rising cases and hospitalizations related to the virus, particularly within the last six weeks. 

“As we’re approaching the fall season, we see a pattern when all respiratory illnesses start to creep up, but here in New York, we don’t panic, we prepare,” Hochul said. “New Yorkers will be able to get a new vaccine based on the strains with the ability to attack the new strains of COVID.”

Both Pfizer and Moderna will be offering the new vaccine, which will be administered as a single dose. 

Hochul said that the Food and Drug Administration has notified her that some doses of the new COVID vaccine were shipped Tuesday and are on the way to New York.

“We expect many more later this week,” Hochul said. “Again, they’ll be starting here in New York on Friday. Doctor’s office, pharmacies, health care providers — you can make an appointment online that’s still available.”

The COVID-19 vaccines will be available at community health centers, urgent care facilities, provider’s offices, chain pharmacies, like CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, and Duane Reade, and at many independent pharmacies, according to the city’s health department. New Yorkers can also check with their local pharmacy to confirm if they are offering the vaccines.

Built off of the Omicron XBB.1.5 variant, the new vaccine will guard against the newer COVID-19 strains that are more dominant today. 

“It is literally a new vaccine,” Hochul clarified. “It is not a booster shot. It is not an enhancer. It is a new vaccine designed to attack the new variants.”

Currently, the dominant variant in the nation is EG.5, accounting for 21.5% of cases, seconded by FL.1.5.1, with 14.5% of cases, and followed by XBB.1.16.6 with 9.2% of cases, according to the CDC. New York State health officials are also monitoring another new variant BA.2.86, said Dr. James McDonald, the state’s health commissioner, at the briefing.

“We’re looking for BA.2.86,” McDonald said. “We’ve seen it so far in wastewater. We haven’t seen it in people yet in New York — doesn’t mean it’s not here, but we’re looking for it.”

Both COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have been trending upwards across New York City since July, according to New York City Health Department COVID-19 data tracker. In the last seven days, there was an average daily rate of 87.3 cases per 100,000 people and 4.4 hospitalizations per 100,000 people.

The state is currently awaiting on more information regarding the age groups that the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are recommending first to receive the vaccine. 

“Sometimes they would say people at risk people over 65,” Hochul said. “In this case, they literally recommended that everyone six months and older should get a shot.”

Hochul reminded New Yorkers to not take comfort in the fact that they may have been vaccinated and boosted in the past.

“Thank you for getting vaccinated in the past, but that is not protecting you today,” Hochul said. “You need to know that you don’t have the immunity built up over time. As the virus evolves, this is where our scientists and researchers and companies have to get ahead of the virus.”

New York Governor Kathy Hochul announces a new COVID-19 vaccine for New Yorkers starting later this week during a briefing in midtown Manhattan on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023.

The state issued updated guidance about the new vaccine for New Yorkers — including those who have not gotten any COVID-19 vaccines at all — shortly after the briefing:

The updated COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months or older who has not received a COVID-19 vaccine in the past two months to protect against potentially serious illness from COVID-19. Recommended dosages vary dependent on age and COVID-19 vaccine history:

  • Those 12 and older who have been previously vaccinated are recommended to get a single dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna updated vaccine.
  • Those 12 and older who have not been previously vaccinated are recommended to get a two-shot series.
  • Children 6 months through 4 years who have been previously vaccinated should get just one dose of either updated vaccine.
  • Those 5 through 11 are eligible to receive a single dose of the updated vaccine at least 2 months after their last dose of any COVID-19 vaccine regardless of previous vaccination.
  • Children 6 months through 4 years, who are getting the vaccine for the first time, should get two doses of a Moderna vaccine or three doses of a Pfizer vaccine.
  • Those who have been infected with COVID-19 within the last two months should speak with a health care provider.

Most health insurance plans will cover the cost of COVID-19 vaccines, without the need for co-pays. Those who are uninsured, or whose insurance does not cover the updated vaccine, will have access to the shots free of charge through community health centers; local, tribal, or territorial health departments; and pharmacies participating in the HHS’ Bridge Access Program.

You can use New York City’s Vaccine Finder to check for vaccine availability at: https://vaccinefinder.nyc.gov.