The new COVID-19 booster became available Wednesday at major chain...

The new COVID-19 booster became available Wednesday at major chain drugstores on Long Island. Credit: AP/Charles Krupa

Major pharmacies on Long Island like CVS and Walgreens began administering the new COVID-19 booster shot Wednesday, with other health care systems set to have doses available by next week at the latest.

The new booster attacks the original COVID-19 virus, and the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the omicron variant, which are causing most current infections.

Moderna's vaccine is for anyone 18 and older, while Pfizer-BioNTech's version is for anyone 12 and above.

Gov. Kathy Hochul kicked off a campaign to encourage people to get the shot by getting one herself Wednesday at the end of a news conference in East Harlem.

Some CVS stores on Long Island had appointments available Wednesday, according to the company’s website. A spokesperson could not say how many doses the company obtained for the region or how many were administered.

Walgreens also had appointments available, according to its website. 

Northwell Health received a shipment of the Moderna vaccine Tuesday night, and hoped to start administering shots in doctors’ offices and hospitals by late this week or early next week, said Dr. Matthew Harris, medical director of Northwell’s vaccine program.

The health care system — the largest in New York State — was expecting a shipment of Pfizer vaccines sometime Wednesday, he said.

After that, Harris said, the process of getting shots into arms should move quickly since the vaccination system is already set up.

“I don’t expect this to be a heavy lift.”

Suffolk County has received 200 doses of the updated Moderna and Pfizer boosters and plans to administer them at the H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge next Monday and Thursday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. 

“We are excited that we now have updated vaccines that will help protect our residents from the newer variants that have been circulating,” County Executive Steve Bellone said. “It is clear that the COVID-19 vaccines have helped to reduce hospital and ICU admissions throughout the country.”

Al Corrado, owner Americare pharmacy in Garden City, said he has not placed any orders because few people have asked about it.

Corrado said he still has 100 doses of the original vaccine he probably won’t be able to use for lack of demand. He won’t order any of the new doses “until it seems like people want it.”

“I believe people are just tired of this whole thing,” he said.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said that health care providers there “are currently able to order the bivalent vaccine. Of those who have placed orders, some providers have already received the vaccine or will be getting their order very soon. Those who are eligible can get this bivalent vaccine in the near future at places like pharmacies, FQHCs, and Primary Care Physicians.”

Dr. Jason Golbin, Catholic Health’s executive vice president and chief medical officer, said “Catholic Health has received a shipment of the latest COVID-19 booster shot. At this time, the vaccine is available for our employees as well as inpatients. We plan to eventually provide this vaccine in an outpatient setting and encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Hochul and Dr. Mary Bassett, the state health commissioner, urged people to get the new shot because it is highly effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalization or death.

Harris said he hopes “there is a greater uptake with this booster than we have seen with previous vaccination efforts. I think we are all concerned about a significant surge. The bivalent vaccine seems very promising.”

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