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Free COVID tests available again as updated vaccine arrives at pharmacies before fall and winter surge

Free COVID tests available again before fall and winter surge
Free COVID tests available again before fall and winter surge 02:04

PARAMUS, N.J. -- COVID cases are on the rise, but health experts aren't sounding any alarms. They're offering tools to help instead. 

Starting Monday, anyone can go to to order up to four free at-home COVID tests per household. 

The Biden administration brought back the free testing program ahead of an expected fall and winter surge in cases. 

There's surging demand for tests. 

"Yeah, I'm selling a lot. Lately, it's been selling a lot," said Manish Pujara, owner of Paramus Pharmacy. 

But there's interest in more than just tests. 

"Nowadays I get like 10, 15 calls a day about the vaccines," said Pujara. 

The updated COVID vaccine, recently approved by to Food and Drug Administration, is becoming available at pharmacies across the country. 

Pujara is still waiting for his delivery. 

"I ordered it, but it should be coming like Thursday or Friday," he told CBS New York

Lots of pharmacies - and even hospitals - are still waiting for batches of the new vaccine as new variants are infecting more people. 

On Call with Dr. Kumar: What to know about new COVID vaccine 03:54

"It's creating a fair amount of disease, but not a lot of severity. So hospitalizations statewide in New Jersey over the last few days have been kind of in the mid-300s. They got as high as around 500, which is way, way, way, way below where we were at peaks, you know, back in the day," said Dr. Daniel Varga, chief physician executive at Hackensack Meridian Health. 

Experts said the new vaccine is not considered a booster, but more of an annual shot updated to target new variants

"This shot should provide immunity to get us through the peak that we are expecting this fall and winter season," said CBS New York medical contributor Dr. Nidhi Kumar. 

One doctor's advice to patients was simple: If you get sick, stay home. If you think it's COVID, take a test and stay home. 

If you had COVID recently, doctors say you should have some natural immunity that could last as long as 90 days. 

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