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New vaccines are out for COVID-19 and flu in New Orleans

Meg Farris explains what these new vaccines do and why they're necessary.

NEW ORLEANS — If you've been to a drug store lately, you've seen signs that the new COVID-19 vaccine and flu vaccines are out.

And it might be a little confusing about who should get them and when.

The reason you hear so much about new vaccines for both flu and COVID-19 is that viruses and their genetics change. So, the protection you get has to change to match.

It's the first day the new COVID-19 vaccine is available at Castellon Pharmacy in the Carrollton area, and there is no shortage of anxious customers.

“Over the weekend, I had over 60 voicemails. Everybody wanted the vaccine, and I have people scheduled through next Monday,” Debbie Bonnet, Castellon Pharmacy’s Pharmacy Manager, Technician and COVID-19 vaccine Coordinator said.

Neither Joe Hero nor Gretchen Bosworth have gotten COVID-19, but know that their older age puts them at high risk for getting really sick.

“Because I'm in my late 70s and I'm vulnerable to all kinds of things, and I might as well,” Bosworth said.

“I don't want to get sick and the Omicron sub-variants are highly infectious. So, I wanted to have protection against that,” Hero said.

The new boosters are different than the earlier ones. They target three, rather than one, strain, the original COVID-19 virus, and two Omicron variants, which are causing around 90% of the cases now. The Pfizer booster is for anyone 12 and older and Moderna is for anyone 18 and older. If you haven't had a COVID-19 shot in the last two months, you can get one now.

“Once we start this, there's no more of the previous shots. This is the only one we can give now,” Scott Beninato, Pharmacist and Co-owner of Castellon Pharmacy explained.

But flu vaccines are out too, and doctors are seeing some flu cases in this area now, which is normal. 

So, can you get both a COVID-19 and flu shot at the same time? Yes, you can, but you might want to separate them.

“About 10% of people who get them at the same time, will have these fever, headache, as opposed to those who just get the COVID-19 vaccine alone,” said Dr. Fred Lopez, Infectious Disease Physician at LSU Health Sciences Center.

And since our flu season usually peaks around Carnival season, is it too early to get a flu vaccine now? Some doctors say waiting until later in October might be better.

“The reason for that is the immunity does wane from the time you get the vaccination. It's good for about four months,” Dr. Lopez said.

But if you hear flu is picking up earlier, get one right away since maximum immunity takes two weeks to develop.

"Australia, New Zealand,  just finished a really busy flu season, and so there is some concern we might as well have a busy flu season,” Dr. Lopez said.

The flu vaccine is for anyone six months and older.

Right now, COVID-19 cases are highest in people 70 and older, and next, in young people five to 17 years old.

Here’s where you can get the new COVID-19 vaccine.

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