By Gus Saltonstall
An updated COVID-19 vaccine was approved last week to fight back against a new strain of the virus, but you won’t have much luck finding it at an independent pharmacy on the Upper West Side.
A new iteration of the vaccine from Moderna and Pfizer began rolling out on Friday, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the new shot for all Americans above the age of 6.
While there have been some initial questions over where to get the new vaccine, a government-created map recently went live that lets you search for nearby pharmacies that are carrying the updated shot.
Here is a list of the Upper West Side pharmacies where you can find the latest vaccine as of Wednesday.
- Walgreens at 4 Amsterdam Avenue
- Walgreens at 1889 Broadway
- CVS at 200 West End Avenue
- Walgreens at 2069 Broadway
- CVS at 2182 Broadway
- Walgreens at 380 Amsterdam Avenue
- CVS at 540 Amsterdam Avenue
- Walgreens at 609 Columbus Avenue
- CVS at 2495 Broadway
- Walgreens at 2522 Broadway
- CVS at 743 Amsterdam Avenue
- Walgreens at 2683 Broadway
- CVS at 2833 Broadway
- Walgreens at 2864 Broadway
You can check the cross streets and whether the COVID vaccine is in stock on the map. The shots at both CVS and Walgreens are free, regardless of insurance coverage, as the pharmacies are part of a federal program that covers the costs.
You can use the map by clicking — HERE — just start by typing in your ZIP Code.
What you won’t see on the map of vaccine destinations are any independent pharmacies carrying the shot.
The Rag called six different UWS independent pharmacies on Wednesday morning — none of them had the newest COVID vaccine.
“I keep ordering the vaccines every single day, and they keep saying out of stock, out of stock,” Ivan Jourdain, the owner of Ivan Pharmacy on Columbus Avenue between 93rd and 94th Streets, said. “But it’s not just our pharmacy, it is every independent pharmacy in the area.”
Jourdain explained that ever since vaccine distribution went from federal oversight to commercial oversight, it has been much more challenging for independent pharmacies to land the shots .
“[Vaccine distribution] is now…commercial…and that will always cater to the bigger fish than the little fish — and that’s the truth,” he said.
The shot to protect against the new BA.2.86 variant is the first version of the COVID jab that the federal government is not buying directly from the manufacturers and sending to pharmacies. The shots are now being sold in the commercial market, meaning pharmacies have to obtain the vaccines through pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) that control their distribution — and are often owned or affiliated with the chains.
“I have names of people waiting, most of them are senior citizens or people that would like to get the vaccine at a local pharmacy, as opposed to the chains, and I can’t service them because I don’t have the vaccines,” Jourdain said.
He pointed to the importance of the personal level of service that independent pharmacies are able to provide their customers. “We make the experience more comfortable,” Jourdain said during a conversation Wednesday morning, which included multiple pauses for him to help customers on a first-name basis.
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