Updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 Vaccine to be Available in Rhode Island

Published on Thursday, September 14, 2023

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is recommending that everyone six months of age and older get the updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine to protect against the potentially serious outcomes of COVID-19 illness this fall and winter.

Vaccine will become increasingly available over the next several weeks at sites throughout Rhode Island. The 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine will be available in the offices of many primary care providers, pharmacies, federally qualified health centers, and other settings. People can call these sites to inquire about availability and make appointments. People can get this updated COVID-19 vaccine even if they have never been vaccinated against COVID-19 previously.

People can get no-cost COVID-19 vaccines from healthcare providers, federally qualified health centers, and retail pharmacy chains participating in the Bridge Access Program. Visit vaccines.gov to find providers that offer no-cost COVID-19 vaccines through the Bridge Access Program.

"Just like the flu, the virus that causes COVID-19 is always changing, and protection from COVID-19 vaccines declines over time. Getting your updated COVID-19 vaccine helps restore your protection, and is one of the best steps you can take to avoid serious illness and hospitalization," said Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH. "Our team has been preparing to ensure that this vaccine is available in Rhode Island in the coming weeks."

In addition to preventing serious illness, COVID-19 vaccine can also help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to people who are more vulnerable to the health effects of COVID-19, including older adults and people with underlying health issues. Vaccination also reduces your chance of experiencing Long COVID [cdc.gov], which can develop during or following acute infection and last for an extended period of time.

On Monday experts at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the use of this updated COVID-19 vaccine. This vaccine is a monovalent vaccine, meaning that it targets one variant, the Omicron variant XBB.1.5. It is an mRNA vaccine. On Tuesday a group that advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), called the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, voted to recommend this vaccine for everyone older than six months of age who has not received a COVID-19 vaccine in the last two months. The CDC accepted this recommendation.

Vaccine recommendations

- Everyone aged five years and older should get one dose of 2023-2024 Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of previous vaccination history, at least two months after the last dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

- People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised may get additional doses of updated Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. People in this situation should talk to their healthcare providers about the 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine.

- Children from six months to five years of age who have previously been vaccinated against COVID-19 can get one dose of the 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine. However, children six months to five years who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 previously may need multiple doses. Parents and guardians should talk to their child's healthcare provider.

Additional information about preventing respiratory viruses

- Get your flu shot. Everyone older than six months of age should be vaccinated against the flu every year. Vaccine for the 2023-2024 flu season will be available throughout Rhode Island in the coming weeks. You can get a flu shot and a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time.

- Stay home when sick. Stay home for at least 24 hours after a fever (temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 37.8 degrees Celsius or higher) is gone. Temperature should be measured without the use of fever-reducing medicines (medicines that contain ibuprofen or acetaminophen). Avoid contact with others, especially older adults and people with underlying health conditions, if you are sick.

- Wash your hands regularly throughout the day using soap for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to clean your hands. Hand washing is especially important before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth; after leaving a public place; after touching objects or surfaces that may be frequently touched by other people, such as door handles and tables.

- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands. Always wash your hands as soon as you can after you cough or sneeze.

- Get tested for COVID-19 if you have any of the classic symptoms, like fever or chills, a runny nose, a cough, achiness, or loss of taste or smell. If you or someone you live with tests positive for COVID-19, there are steps you can take to prevent spreading the virus to others and protect yourself from getting very sick. The Isolation Calculator (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/isolation.html) can help you determine how long you should stay home and isolate away from others. Learn more about doctor-recommended treatments for COVID-19 that can keep you from getting sicker and being hospitalized.