How to get a booster shot at Yale and in New Haven
New Omicron-targeting COVID-19 vaccine boosters are available through Yale Health and local pharmacies. Here’s what you need to know about getting a booster.
Jessai Flores, Illustrations Editor
Search for vaccine availability in your area at vaccines.gov. You can also call the Campus COVID Resource Line (CCRL) at 203-432-6604.
New COVID-19 booster vaccines — the first to specifically target the uniquely contagious Omicron variant — are available at pharmacies on campus and in New Haven.
Campus and city officials are encouraging people to make appointments as soon as possible through Yale Health’s clinic or local pharmacies. Appointments are currently available through Yale Health, with current wait times at around eight to ten days.
The newest boosters, produced by Pfizer and Moderna, were authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month and became widely available soon after.
Known as bivalent boosters or “updated boosters,” the new shots contain mRNA components that protect against both the original strains of the COVID-19 virus as well as the newer, more contagious strains — BA.4 and BA.5 — that have become dominant in the United States.
Who should get a booster shot?
Boosters are recommended for all people who received their last shot — either an initial two-dose series or a previous booster — at least two months ago, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“[The booster] helps to protect one not only from getting sick with COVID-19 but also … prevents severe disease,” said Richard Martinello, medical director of infection prevention at Yale New Haven Health. “Everyone’s at risk, even if you’ve had COVID before.”
Martinello said that all people, even those who have had COVID previously, are at risk for infection. Long-term post-COVID-19 conditions can be debilitating for students, he added.
Pfizer’s new bivalent booster is authorized for use in people 12 and older, and the Moderna booster is approved for those 18 and older. Boosters are not yet recommended for children younger than 12.
Martinello suggested that those infected with COVID-19 wait until one month after recovery before receiving a booster.
Where can I get the COVID-19 booster in New Haven?
Yale affiliates — including students, staff, faculty and other Yale Health members — can make appointments to receive the updated booster at Yale Health’s vaccine clinic through MyChart or through the Yale COVID-19 Vaccine Program. Yale Health is currently offering updated Pfizer boosters.
In addition, appointments can be made through local pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens. Available appointments can be found at the federal website vaccines.gov. Yale asks that students and faculty who choose off-campus options report their updates in vaccinations.
“It was super easy to register and receive [the booster],” Josh Guo ’24 wrote to the News. “I scheduled my appointment through MyChart, and the clinic is a little far … but pretty accessible via the Yale Shuttle.”
Yale Health’s vaccine clinic at Science Park is at 310 Winchester Avenue, around a 20-minute walk from central campus. The facility is separate from its main location on Lock Street.
On the other hand, scheduling appointments for some people, like Isabella Walther-Meade ’25, has not been as easy.
According to Walther-Meade, her appointment at Walgreens — which she scheduled online ten days in advance — ended up being “pretty stressful” as it took “about two hours” due to staffing shortages. Walther-Meade chose to register at Walgreens because she was not sure how to do so through Yale Health — and Walgreens appeared to have more appointments available on earlier dates.
Patients should bring a photo ID and insurance card to vaccine appointments.
Can I get my COVID-19 booster shot and flu shot at the same time?
Public health officials have also been urging people to protect themselves against the more familiar influenza virus. Flu season in the United States typically occurs during the fall and winter months.
The CDC has recommended that those receiving two shots during the same appointment receive them in different arms.
Flu shots are free and available to all people six months and older. Individuals with scheduled appointments for COVID-19 boosters will have the opportunity to receive a flu shot during the same appointment.
Does the booster have side effects?
Students have reported only mild side-effects after receiving their updated boosters. Several said that their reactions were less severe compared to reactions from their first booster shots.
“I only had arm soreness for a day or two,” Walther-Meade wrote in a statement to the News. “I had a relatively severe reaction to my first booster, so I was relieved.”
Olivia Meisner GRD ’25 said she experienced a headache, mild fatigue and body aches. Roy Kohavi ’26 also experienced a decrease in the severity of his side effects, going from headaches and fatigue after his original booster to no symptoms at all after his updated booster.
Martinello mentioned that health professionals are “not seeing any side effects outside of the realm of what [they’ve] previously seen,” meaning that students and faculty who get the bivalent booster should not expect symptoms they haven’t experienced or heard about before.
Hospital remains strained by COVID-19 infections
Martinello stressed the importance of getting boosted to protect the overall community, especially as Yale New Haven Hospital continues to admit a steady stream of COVID-19 patients.
“One of the things I worry about on a daily basis is how full our hospital is,” Martinello said. “In the last few months we’ve had 65 to 100 patients in our hospital with COVID-19 … that takes a lot of resources that are very important for other health needs that our community has.”
The Yale Health vaccine clinic is located at 310 Winchester Avenue.