The Perfect Enemy | New COVID booster shots are available in Iowa. Here’s what to know
September 27, 2022

New COVID booster shots are available in Iowa. Here’s what to know

New COVID booster shots are available in Iowa. Here’s what to know  Des Moines RegisterView Full Coverage on Google News

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New COVID-19 booster shots targeting the omicron variant are now available to most Iowans 12 and older. 

Pharmacies, clinics and other vaccine providers across the state began offering the single-dose booster over the holiday weekend and into this week after federal health officials approved the new reformulated Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The new bivalent booster shots target both the original strain of the coronavirus and the most recent omicron variant that’s causing spikes in infections.

As of Saturday, the BA.5 variant accounted for 88% of new COVID-19 cases across the country, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As a result, these new boosters will be more effective against the latest version of the coronavirus, said Mike Brownlee, chief pharmacy officer at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

More:Iowa’s COVID-19 cases decrease as hospitalizations increase slightly over the week

“We should start to look at this vaccine program, from a booster perspective, a lot like we do with the flu,” Brownlee said. “We’re seeing different strains that are now circulating, so we adjust and create a booster that gives us coverage for these new circulating strains.”

Vaccine doses may be limited at first

Iowa received 56,000 doses of COVID-19 bivalent booster doses in the first round of distribution, which began to arrive in the state Sept. 1, said Sarah Ekstrand, spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services. 

However, providers warn appointments for the booster initially may be limited.

But unlike previous phases of the pandemic, there’s not a high level of urgency to get the booster unless you are at high risk, Brownlee said. The primary vaccine series and previous booster doses are still very effective against serious illness and hospitalization.

“There’s just a lot more circulating immunities in our communities now because of infection rates and because of vaccination,” Brownlee said. “We’re just not in the same serious stance we were before.” 

Additional vaccine doses are expected to arrive in Iowa later this week, Ekstrand said. 

The Biden administration purchased 171 million booster doses, which includes 105 million from Pfizer and 66 million from Moderna. The White House is expected to procure more doses in the coming weeks, and federal health officials said vaccine supply should meet demand this fall and winter.

More:10.5 million children were orphaned or lost a primary caregiver due to COVID, study finds

Where can I find a booster shot? 

Each of Iowa’s 99 counties was allocated Pfizer and Moderna vaccine doses in the initial rollout, state officials told health providers in a recent memo. In line with the state’s ongoing vaccine distribution strategy, doses should be available at many health-care clinics and pharmacies across the state.

Hy-Vee, the grocery chain that includes Iowa’s largest set of pharmacies, announced Tuesday that booster appointments would be available at select locations this week by appointment only “due to the initial limited supply.” Individuals can schedule appointments at

The vaccines are also available at major retail pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens. 

More:Tracking COVID-19 vaccine distribution by state: How many people have been vaccinated in the US?

Iowans can schedule an appointment at CVS by visiting or using the CVS Pharmacy app. They can also schedule an appointment at Walgreens through or the Walgreens app or by calling 1-800-WALGREENS.

Who is eligible for the new booster shot? 

The Pfizer booster was authorized for individuals aged 12 and older.

The Moderna vaccine is authorized for those aged 18 and older. 

The CDC estimates there are roughly 200 million Americans aged 12 and older who are eligible for the new booster shot.

However, individuals have been slow to get boosters. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, only about half of U.S. adults say they are fully vaccinated and have also received a booster shot.

About 24% received the primary COVID-19 vaccine series but have not received their booster.

Brownlee is optimistic the CDC’s move to simplify booster-shot guidance will result in less confusion among the public and more individuals seeking the shot.

Brownlee also pointed out Pfizer booster shots are still available for children between the ages of five to 11 years.

More:Should you get a new COVID booster? If so, when?

When is the best time to get boosted? 

Individuals should wait at least two months after completing the primary two-dose vaccine series or after receiving a booster dose with the original vaccine.

Those who have been infected with COVID-19 should wait at least three months before receiving the new bivalent booster shot, the CDC recommends. 

Beyond that, the CDC recommends Americans get boosted as soon as they are eligible. 

Brownlee recommends Iowans should get their bivalent booster shot at the same time as their annual influenza shot. Possible symptoms after getting two vaccines are the same as getting a single shot, and there’s no concern these vaccines will negate one another, he said. 

“We’re already starting to see some RSV and flu activity, so we’re in the prime time to get your flu vaccine,” Brownlee said.

Michaela Ramm covers health care for the Des Moines Register. She can be reached at, at (319) 339-7354 or on Twitter at @Michaela_Ramm.