The new COVID vaccines are available

 Written by L. M. Land The Courier believes it is important for our readers to understand about and receive the new COVID vaccine. Following are an update, answers to common questions and current locations to get the updated vaccine. COVID test kits A brand new development is that our government...

The new COVID vaccines are available

 Written by L. M. Land

The Courier believes it is important for our readers to understand about and receive the new COVID vaccine. Following are an update, answers to common questions and current locations to get the updated vaccine.

COVID test kits

A brand new development is that our government is covering free test kits again as of September 25, 2023. There is concern about the rising number of COVID cases, and testing at home is the easiest way to know if you have it. Covered are four rapid antigen COVID tests per address, shipping out free starting on October 2, 2023. Order here:, or by phone call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489).

The following is from my personal experience: I just recovered from COVID and tested positive for 10 days. My step-sister still tests positive after three weeks. Other family members have also had very long COVID infection times, and having the tests at home kept us up to date on our infection status.

The new vaccine

The updated Pfizer (Comirnaty) and Moderna (Spikevax) vaccines are the only two updated COVID-19 vaccines currently available. The FDA is in the process of reviewing a potential third vaccine, an updated Novavax vaccine for people aged 12 and older that is designed to protect against current variants.

These vaccines target the XBB.1.5 COVID-19 variant. In studies, they are also effective against current circulating variants, including BA.2.86. Vaccine protection lessens over time, which is just one reason to get updated every year.

Can I get a COVID vaccine and flu shot at the same time?

Yes. According to the CDC, it is OK to get flu, COVID and other vaccines at the same time.  Authorities are planning on each update being available at the same time as flu vaccines in the fall to make it easier to remember getting both or all needed vaccines.

It does not matter which brand you get. It does not need to be the same brand as your previous COVID vaccine.

Will my insurance pay?

You must bring your insurance card. The government is no longer covering the cost of the immunization and will need to bill your insurance carrier. Medicare will be billed for you and the immunization covered if you go to an approved provider. If you have an Advantage plan, an HMO or other type of insurance, check to see where the vaccine will be covered or you may be billed.  The Courier has covered this in previous issues, available online at  The bottom line is to call your health insurance plan for their approved locations. The phone number will be on the back of your insurance card.

Who should get the new vaccine?

Regardless of previous vaccination history, the CDC recommends a single dose of the updated COVID-19 vaccine for most people aged 5 years and older. For most people, getting just one updated 2023-2024 vaccine dose in the next year is enough and will mean you are up to date.

The updated vaccine can be administered two months after your last dose of the old vaccine.

Two groups who might need more than one dose:

  • Children aged 6 months – 5 years old, depending on the number of doses previously received and their age. See your pediatrician for clarity as the children’s schedule varies from adult schedules.
  • Moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals may need additional doses. People who have a weakened immune system — such as those being treated for cancer or who have had an organ transplant — can get additional doses two months apart.
  • People who have a weakened immune system and have never received a COVID-19 vaccine should get three vaccine doses as part of their initial vaccine series. They can also get an additional updated dose at least two months after the last updated vaccine dose.

As always, if you have any questions at all, talk to your doctor. Each person’s health is different.

I just recovered from COVID, should I get the new vaccine?

 YES!  The new vaccine is helping to prevent quite a few of the currently circulating variants, and it will give added protection.

There is currently no evidence to determine how long you should wait to be vaccinated after infection, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Wait until your symptoms have passed. Other sources say wait three months from when your symptoms started.  You may want to get vaccinated sooner than three months if you are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Again, you and your doctor should make the decision.

Where can I get the vaccine?

Because the government is no longer supplying the vaccines, each location administering the vaccine has to order their own inventory, and our entire nation needs the vaccine.  Following are two locations we know about so far.


Walgreen’s website gives you store locations and the brand of vaccine they are offering.  You can also view times and location phone numbers.  According to their scheduler, there are 18 locations within 10 miles of zip code 48503.

Also, their website states that “This season’s COVID-19 vaccine is now available to schedule for patients age 12+. For patients under age 12, the vaccine isn’t available yet, but will be soon. Please check back.”

Make your appointment at:
or call 1-800-WALGREENS (1-800-925-4733) or your local pharmacy.

Rite Aid

Rite Aid shows 29 stores within 25 miles of zip code 48503 have the vaccine. Once you are in the scheduler, chose an appointment time, there is a drop down box to choose the brand you prefer. They will also take walk-ins if they have the vaccine in stock.

To schedule appointment:

Call your local store if you can’t access the internet.

If you know of other vaccine locations, please let us know at or leave a message at 810-234-8770. We will share the information here.

Additional Information

Many websites are NOT yet updated with information about the new vaccine, including Genesee County’s Health Department site and Medicare’s site. If the site is talking about the bivalent vaccine, that is the old vaccine and is no longer relevant. 

The NEW VACCINE is a monovalent (one strain), containing strain XBB.1.5.

Genesee County Health Department clinic information was not updated as of press time, the last update was 12-14-22.

Be sure to check the date posted on a web page when researching for the most up-to-date information.

CDC: Stay Up to Date with COVID-19 Vaccines