The FDA and CDC have approved an updated version of the COVID-19 vaccine, now available for Fresno patients through their local pharmacies and healthcare providers. Credit: Naeblys

What's at stake?

With COVID cases on the rise once again, officials are pushing a new booster shot and renewed at-home testing.

An updated version of the COVID-19 vaccine is available for Fresno patients through their local pharmacies and healthcare providers.

The new vaccine, produced by ModernaTX Inc. and Pfizer Inc., targets the Omicron variant XBB 1.5 and its other sub-lineages: XBB 1.6 and XBB 2.3. 

The FDA cited an expected uptick in the XBB variants in the fall of 2023 as more than 95% of the circulating variants in the U.S. as of early June 2023 are of that strain and similar protein sequence.

“Continued mutations make it easier for COVID-19 to infect individuals, even if they have been previously infected with earlier strains of COVID-19,” said Dr. Trinidad Solis and Dr. John Zweifler in a joint email to Fresnoland. “Also, immunity against viral illnesses including COVID-19 tends to wane over time, both for those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, as well as for those who were previously infected.”

The FDA and the Fresno County Department of Public Health recommend the new vaccine for individuals 12 years and older and, in emergencies, for individuals 6 months and older.

The CDC says the side effects are similar to those of the original COVID vaccines: fatigue, headaches, chills, low fever, muscle aches, and possible pain and swelling on the injection site of the arm.

The FDA has also moved to hold annual meetings in June to assess COVID-19 vaccine updates.

Where to Get the New Vaccine?

To get your vaccine, make an appointment with your doctor or local pharmacy to get the booster for COVID-19 in Fresno.

According to CVS, vaccines will be free of charge for all ages, regardless of insurance status, with Rite Aid and Walgreens following suit.

A CVS source told Fresnoland that annual updated COVID vaccines could become routine, much like the flu shot.

COVID-19 in Fresno

Fresno County has seen a 12.2% positivity rate in COVID cases last week, a 2.6% decrease from the week prior and significantly lower than the county’s late August peak of 15% positivity. 

California has seen positive cases up 12.8%, a .05% decrease from 7 days prior but still more than 5% above the positive cases reported in mid-July.

The U.S. has seen an 18% increase in cases in the past two weeks, an average of 4,679 daily.

At-Home COVID Tests and How to Get Them

Starting Sept. 25, the Biden administration will again take orders for free at-home COVID tests.

The administration guaranteed a $600 million investment that will work to deliver a maximum of four free tests per household.

To place an order for free at-home COVID tests, visit

To prevent the spread of COVID, the FCDPH recommends staying up to date on vaccines, staying home if you feel sick, and wearing a mask in crowded indoor places.

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