New cases of coronavirus are once again on the rise in Long Beach and across the nation. Local and national health officials continue to urge residents to get the COVID vaccination and remain up to date with boosters. But where can you get a shot in Long Beach and when should you?

A new version of the COVID-19 vaccine better suited to fight the current variants is expected to be available in mid-September. Except for those who have never been vaccinated or who are older and/or at high risk, Dr. Mandy Cohen, director of the Center for Disease Control, recently suggested waiting for the new version to drop in a few weeks.

In Long Beach, the health department continues to offer free COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots at:

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Park Central Facilities Center (1133 Rhea St.), Monday-Friday from 2-6 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (Shots for children ages 6 months to 11 are only available Saturdays.)
  • El Dorado Park West Recreation Center (2800 N. Studebaker Road), Monday-Thursday 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Appointments can be scheduled here.

Additionally, CVS and Walgreens have a combined 17 locations in Long Beach, Signal Hill and Lakewood that offer coronavirus (and other) vaccines. The stores’ services are free through most insurance or through federal assistance.

“Vaccines are effective and safe and are an important tool in reducing the risk of COVID-19 and, especially, hospitalizations,” health department spokesperson Jennifer Rice Epstein said in an email Tuesday. “We encourage everyone to get vaccinated to protect themselves, their loved ones and anyone they encounter—whether friends, family or strangers—who are at high risk of severe disease and hospitalization.”

The Long Beach health department and CDC both recommend people check with their health care providers for guidance if they are unsure whether or not they should receive the vaccine.

Cohen noted that the country is in a “much better place” than it was one year ago, with an average of about 10,000 people in the hospital with the virus per week, compared to 40,000 in August 2022. Age and underlying health conditions continue to be a leading factor, Cohen said, adding that 70% of hospitalizations are people aged 65 and older.

The virus, however, remains “riskier” for the unvaccinated, especially if they have not had a previous COVID infection, Cohen said Friday.

Guidance from the CDC states coronavirus vaccine doses should be administered at least two months apart for a better immune response against the virus as well as a decreased risk of rare but serious side effects.

Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal.