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Wednesday, Mar 29, 2023

Middlebury Regional EMS offering clinic for Omicron-targeting vaccine

Middlebury Regional Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is offering a walk-in clinic for the new Omicron-targeting Covid-19 vaccine in September and throughout the fall.

The new vaccine is bivalent, meaning it specifically targets the new BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants, while still treating all previous strains of Covid-19. Anyone aged 12 and up who has already received a primary series — two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, for most — of vaccination is eligible for the booster. The clinic is currently only offering Pfizer vaccines but plans to restock its supply of Moderna vaccines as soon as possible.

Other Omicron vaccine clinics in Middlebury are offered by Kinney Drugs, Walgreens and Village Health. 

Mary Miller, clinic coordinator of Middlebury Regional EMS, told The Campus that one can simply walk in any time before 3:45 p.m. but said there are times of day when they are the busiest. According to Miller, it’s best “not to come first thing in the morning or last thing in the afternoon.”

The clinic is not offering reservations, and proof of insurance is not required. The vaccine is free of charge. 

Miller added that it is a good idea to bring one’s vaccination card, so that all previous Covid-19 vaccination records are in one place, but it is not required. New vaccination cards are available on site for those who need them. For those under the age of 18, parental permission is required but can be given over the phone.

As with prior doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, Miller stressed the importance of taking care of oneself in the days after the administration of the booster.

“Stay nice and hydrated, and you can either do Tylenol or Ibuprofen for discomfort,” she said. 

A key difference between this booster and previous boosters is its claim to provide more protection against breakthrough illnesses. Some experts have compared the creation of the Omicron-targeting dose to the annual formulation of flu shots, but it is unclear whether annual doses of Covid-19 vaccines will be developed.

Like the initial Covid-19 vaccines, this dose can cause side effects such as soreness around the site of the injection, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea.

“I felt a little down for the count after getting my [booster], but I rested for a day and now I feel great,” Charlie Keohane ’24, who received her booster in mid-September at Middlebury EMS, told The Campus.

Overall, Keohane said she felt lucky her experience was so easy, especially because the whole process took under an hour.

The Biden administration has purchased 171 million doses of the bivalent Covid-19 booster, but some health experts have noted that urgency around Covid-19 is fading, preventing news of the new booster from reaching the public. On Middlebury’s campus, the news of the walk-in clinic is slowly starting to circulate.

“I try to keep up with a few different news sources, and I hadn’t heard about the new booster until a friend mentioned it to me,” Khasai Makhulo ’23 said. 

Located at 55 Collins Drive, next to Porter Medical Center, the Middlebury Regional EMS walk-in clinic is open Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The site will also be hosting a special vaccine clinic this Saturday, Sept. 24 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Editor’s Note: Charlie Keohane is an Editor at Large for The Campus.

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Eric Burchill

Eric Burchill '23 (he/him/his) is the Digital Director for the Campus. He previously served as a copyeditor and online editor. 

Eric is from Palm Beach, FL and is majoring in Psychology with minors in Japanese and Religion. He loves horror movies, pop music, animals, Oreos, and Survivor.