In mid-September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration approved a newly updated formula of the mRNA COVID vaccine. As new strains of COVID-19 emerge, the new vaccines are designed to target current variants.

This year’s updated vaccines are provided by manufacturers Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Novavax, a new entrant to the game. People 12 years and older who have not received any other booster doses can receive the Novavax vaccine. 

Here is everything you need to know about the latest version of this vaccine:

What does the CDC have to say about the new and updated vaccines?

The CDC recommends the updated Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or the newest vaccine from Novavax to protect against COVID-19. 

To be current, you need two doses of the Novavax vaccine with a second dose given eight weeks after the first dose, whereas only one dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines are needed to be up to date. 

How are the new versions different from the previous ones?

The new Novavax COVID-19 vaccine became available after recommendations from the CDC on Oct. 3. Novavax contains “pieces (proteins) of the virus that causes COVID-19,” according to the CDC. The pieces are a spike protein, and the vaccine includes an ingredient called “adjuvant” that helps the immune system respond to the protein, according to the CDC. 

The updated Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines became available after recommendations from the CDC on Sept. 12. The new vaccines target the Omicron variant XBB lineage and can restore protection against severe COVID-19, according to the CDC. 

As of Sept. 11, the older bivalent Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines will no longer be available in the United States. They were used to protect against the original virus that causes COVID-19 and the Omicron variants, according to the CDC. 

Where can I receive the new updated COVID-19 vaccine in Houston?

The Houston Health Department operates four vaccination sites that offer doses of Moderna, Pfizer and Novavax vaccines. The vaccines will be free for those who are underinsured or lack health insurance. 

Here are the four locations:

  • La Nueva Casa de Amigos Health Center at 1809 North Main St., 77009.
  • Northside Health Center at 8504 Schuller Road, 77093.
  • Sharpstown Health Services at 6201 Bonhomme Road, 77036. 
  • Sunnyside Health and Multi-Service Center at 4410 Reed Road, 77051.

Each location is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, and 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Fridays. The sites close at 11:30 a.m. on the second Wednesday of each month. 

Where can I receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Harris County?

The Harris County Public Health Department will offer the new and updated Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for free to those who don’t have insurance or are underinsured. 

You can call (832) 927-8787 or visit to make an appointment at their locations. 

Where can I receive a COVID-19 vaccine around the region?

Walgreens, CVS and Walmart are also distributing the updated COVID-19 vaccine. 

Go to, use the Walgreens app or call 1-800-WALGREENS to schedule an appointment. 

At CVS, go to or use the app. Walk-ins are accepted at certain locations. You can also use CVS’ MinuteClinic to book appointments for those 18 months and older. To schedule an appointment, go to

Walmart is also accepting online scheduling for the new and updated COVID-19 vaccine. To schedule an appointment, go here

You can also use the CDC’s website to find additional locations, call 1-800-232-0233 or text your zip code to 438829. 

Who can receive it?

Children 6 months through 4 years of age who have previously been vaccinated can receive one or two doses of the updated vaccines, according to the FDA. Unvaccinated children between the ages of 6 months and 4 years old can receive three doses of the updated Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or two doses of the updated Moderna vaccine. 

Children who are 5 to 11 years old can receive one dose of an updated vaccine. Those who are 12 years and older and are not vaccinated can receive one dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, or two doses of the Novavax vaccine. 

“The public can be assured that these updated vaccines have met the agency’s rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality,” said Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “We very much encourage those who are eligible to consider getting vaccinated.”

Mary Khuat grabs boxes of COVID-19 booster vials out of a refrigerator at Northside Health Center in Houston
Mary Khuat grabs boxes of COVID-19 booster vials out of a refrigerator at Northside Health Center, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023, in Houston. (Antranik Tavitian / Houston Landing)

Can you receive the influenza shot and the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time?

According to the Harris County Public Health Department, it’s safe to receive both the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu shot at the same time.  

What if you’ve recently had COVID-19 and are considering receiving the vaccine?

The CDC recommends waiting at least three months to receive the vaccine since you’re less likely to be reinfected within weeks or even months after having COVID. 

However, you may consider receiving the vaccine sooner if you or someone close to you has a severe disease, if you live in an area where the hospital has high levels of COVID-19 hospital admissions or if there is a current circulating variant causing illness. 

What does it cost?

Both the Harris County Public Health Department and the Houston Health Department will offer vaccines for free if you don’t have insurance or if your insurance doesn’t cover the cost.

What to do if you need transportation?

The Houston Health Department lists the following companies if transportation is needed: 

  • Area Agency on Aging: 832-393-4301
  • Aging & Disability Resource Center: 832-393-5500 
  • Uber:  855-632-0557  
  • Lyft: Via app

If you qualify for METROLift, you can use the service to travel to medical appointments, according to its website.

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Angelica Perez is a civic engagement reporter for the Houston Landing. A Houston native, she is excited to return to the city after interning at The Dallas Morning News as a breaking news intern in the...