Want to get the new COVID vaccine in Massachusetts? Here’s some advice from the experts

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from WBUR’s daily morning newsletter, WBUR Today. If you like what you read and want it in your inbox, sign up here. 

It’s a game of inches, but at least we have Dunkin’s new, blended-munchkin drink to lift spirits (or, at least our blood sugar) after another tough Patriots loss last night.

Let’s kick off our week with some more news:

Round four of the COVID vaccine rollout is here. The latest version of the COVID vaccine — battling omicron variant XBB. 1.5 — is now officially available across Massachusetts. If you’re itching to get the shot, you’ll probably want to head to the pharmacy. WBUR’s Priyanka Dayal McCluskey reports local hospitals and clinics may not have the vaccine for several more days (if not weeks), while national chains like CVS and Walgreens already have them in stock across the state.

  • How do I get one? The websites for CVS and Walgreens show pretty plentiful appointment slots this week. But they’ll also accept walk-ins. (Only 17% of those eligible for the last booster got one, so it seems unlikely demand will be super high this time around.)
  • Advice from the top: The CDC says everyone ages six months and older should get the new vaccine if it’s been at least two months since your last COVID shot.
  • But do I need to get one now? Experts say higher-risk individuals should get the shot ASAP. But for healthy young adults and children, it’s a little less pressing. Some experts suggest getting it with your flu shot before flu season and the holidays later this fall. “I think you can wait a month or two,” Dr. David Hamer, Boston University public health professor, recently told Radio Boston.
  • Remember: While the federal government is no longer covering the cost of the vaccines, people with health insurance should still be able to get them for free. And those without insurance can get the shots for free from certain locations through at least the end of 2024.
  • Go deeper: NPR has answers to all your new vaccine questions here.

Get out your walking shoes, Green Line riders. Two 25-day Green Line station closures begin today — and there generally won’t be any replacement shuttle bus service for either (with the exception of on-call vans for those with disabilities). Both of the closures will run today through Thursday, Oct. 12. Here’s what to know:

  • First, Haymarket station is closed due to the still-ongoing demolition work on the Government Center Garage. Riders will need to walk three-quarters of a mile between North Station and Government Center, or switch onto the nearby Orange Line.
  • Second, Somerville’s Union Square station is closed due to MassDOT work on the Route 28 Squires Bridge. The T suggests riders take local buses or the Green Line Extension’s Medford/Tufts branch (the East Somerville stop is a half-mile away). Check out the map below for a view of the options.
  • One sweet, silver lining: There will be some shuttle bus service between the East Somerville stop and Union Square plaza this Saturday from 2:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m for Somerville’s annual “What the Fluff?” Festival. The shuttles will run every 10 to 15 minutes.

This map shows alternative routes riders can take to get around the branch closure. (Courtesy of the MBTA)

Speaking of bridge work: Another round of repair work begins today on the Bourne Bridge — meaning traffic in each direction will be reduced from two lanes to one. The other Cape Cod bridge, the Sagamore, underwent similar maintenance work this past spring. (These are short-term term fixes until both bridges are eventually replaced.)

  • What to expect: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the repair work will likely run through late November. Bourne Bridge drivers should expect delays, especially in the morning and afternoon.

Make sure to bring a mask if you’re headed to a Cambridge Health Alliance facility. The local healthcare system is reinstating a mask mandate today for patients, staff and visitors — and expects to keep the requirement in place through flu and cold season. (According to the Boston Business Journal, CHA locations will have masks available for visitors in their lobbies.)

P.S.— Keep your ears peeled for new climate plans from the state this morning. Gov. Maura Healey’s office says she will announce new policies during an 8 a.m. keynote speech today at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. Watch here.

Clarification: This story has been updated to include that people without insurance will need to go to specific locations to get COVID-19 vaccines for free.


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