Updated Covid boosters arrive in Salem

Salem pharmacies and walk-in vaccine clinics will have updated Covid booster shots available this week.

The new vaccines, made by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech were developed to target the currently circulating and more infectious omicron variants of the coronavirus, in addition to the original strains.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved the new shots last week, finding they were safe and effective, and doses have begun arriving in Oregon and Salem.

“The original two doses of vaccine offer less protection against these omicron variants that are the predominant strains in Oregon and the United States,” Dr. Dean Sidelinger, state epidemiologist, told the Oregon Capital Chronicle Tuesday. “They were very good against the original strain, but are proving less effective at protecting against the omicron strain, as people are further out from their last dose.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, Oregon Health Authority had received more than 39,000 doses of the updated vaccines, with about 31,000 of those destined for local pharmacies, spokesman Rudy Owens said. A total of 75,000 doses were expected by the end of the week.

The Pfizer vaccine is approved for anyone age 12 and older, and the Moderna for those 18 and older. People should receive a primary vaccination series before receiving a booster, and have received their last shot at least two months ago before getting a booster, according to guidelines from the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

Local pharmacies including Walgreens and Safeways in Salem were scheduling appointments for the updates booster this week, according to their websites.

The Salem area still has several walk-in vaccination sites operating which are free, open to anyone and don’t require insurance or identification to receive a shot.

Those sites will have the updated booster available starting this week, Owens said. A new site at the Megafoods in Woodburn is also opening.

Free vaccination sites in Oregon are listed on the health authority website. Those operating in Marion and Polk counties are:

Salem Center Mall (Located near Kohls and Ross), 401 Center St N.E. #1170

Open Thursdays, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Salem Mega Foods, 3695 Devonshire Ave N.E.

Open Sundays and Mondays, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. (Mondays are only in September)

Woodburn Mega Foods, 1542 Mt Hood Ave., Woodburn

Wednesday – Saturday 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., starting Sept. 14

Mi Casita Market, 834 N. Main St., Independence

Open Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m.

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

JUST THE FACTS, FOR SALEM – We report on your community with care and depth, fairness and accuracy. Get local news that matters to you. Subscribe to Salem Reporter starting at $5 a month. Click I want to subscribe! 

Rachel Alexander is Salem Reporter’s managing editor. She joined Salem Reporter when it was founded in 2018 and covers city news, education, nonprofits and a little bit of everything else. She’s been a journalist in Oregon and Washington for a decade. Outside of work, she’s a skater and board member with Salem’s Cherry City Roller Derby and can often be found with her nose buried in a book.