Scheduling a COVID vaccine may soon become easier.
State and federal health officials said Wednesday that supplies of the updated COVID vaccine are expected to increase by the middle of October.
“We're starting to see supply shake loose,” said Dr. Robbie Goldstein, the Massachusetts public health commissioner. “Over the next week to two, I think we'll see supply really flood the state, so that folks can go into their local pharmacy, they can go to their health center, they can go to their local provider, to get their COVID vaccine.”
An updated version of the COVID vaccine received federal approval in mid-September. Since then, people eager to get the shot have sometimes struggled to schedule appointments for themselves or their children because of early delays in supply.
With COVID no longer deemed a public health emergency, the federal government is no longer buying and distributing vaccines. Instead, health care providers and pharmacies are buying their own doses and waiting for shipments, which has made for a slower vaccine rollout.
During a trip to Boston on Wednesday, Dr. Mandy Cohen, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said supplies are improving. She urged people to keep trying to schedule their vaccinations.
“This is the private sector working through this process,” she said in an interview with WBUR. “It's just taking more time for folks to work through this new process.”
“We already feel like there's really good availability for adults,” she added. “I think the pediatric availability is going to improve over the next one to two weeks. So just call your pediatrician, call your local pharmacy.”
Cohen and Goldstein spoke with reporters after touring the Whittier Street Health Center in Roxbury — which received its first vaccine shipment this week and started giving shots on Wednesday.
CDC officials recommend the COVID and flu vaccines for everyone 6 months and older and say it’s safe to receive both shots on the same day. (Goldstein got his jabs — one in each arm — at the Whittier Street clinic.)
Cohen acknowledged that many Americans have lost trust in institutions, including the CDC, and said she’s working to regain trust by sharing good information with the public.
“The COVID vaccine is one of the most studied vaccines in history,” she said. “We've given out 600 million doses-plus of that vaccine. It's safe. It's effective. We just want folks to be protected this winter.”
Public health officials and doctors recommend getting both vaccines by the end of October, in order to build protection for peak respiratory virus season. For the first time this year, there is also a vaccine for people at higher risk of serious illness from another common virus, respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.