AUSTIN, Texas — New evidence that the omicron variant is in Austin and Travis County is expected to increase the already high demand for COVID-19 booster shots.
“There’s been a lot of demand lately for boosters, which is fantastic,” said Cassandra DeLeon with Austin Public Health.
So far 200,000 people in Austin and Travis County have received a third dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. Those numbers could spike now that lab results show evidence that the omicron variant is spreading in the Austin area. To help, Austin Public Health is adding more vaccinators to its five free, walk-up clinics scattered from South Austin to Pflugerville.
“You may have to wait a little if you come out to one of our clinics, but you will get that shot today,” said DeLeon.
To minimize lines and waits, APH recommends people register online and make an appointment if one is available.
“If you make an appointment, you would be able to fast track through the clinic,” said DeLeon.
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Vaccination appointments are also starting to fill up at pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS. At some pharmacy locations the wait for an appointment can range from several days up to a week.
“We are seeing those types of lead times in some markets,” said Jay Patel with CVS Health. “Since the emergence of the variant we are seeing an uptick in vaccination demand. The good news is we do have the capacity and the inventory to meet that demand.”
CVS recommends making an appointment to get COVID-19 and flu vaccines at the same time to minimize the wait and reduce the number of vaccination appointments being made.
“If a patient can’t make an appointment or it might be too far in advance, they’re always welcome to walk in to the store as long as the store has extra vaccine on hand,” said Patel.
Austin health leaders say early indications are that current vaccines will be protective against the new variant.
“It is important for us to use the vaccine that we have available now, to protect us now, as we prepare for a possible surge in cases,” said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Health Authority.
Click here to access the five walk-up vaccination clinics currently being offered by Austin Public Health.