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We’re entering the time of year where more people get sick from COVID-19, flu, and RSV. Vaccinations are critically important in protecting health and preventing serious illness during respiratory illness season. The Washtenaw County Health Department encourages everyone to get a flu shot and an updated COVID-19 vaccine.
“For the first time, vaccinations are available for all three of the common respiratory viruses: flu, COVID-19, and RSV,” says Juan Marquez, MD, MPH, Washtenaw County Health Department medical director. “This gives us the opportunity to prevent severe illness for our most vulnerable community members.”
“Updated COVID-19 vaccines protect against the variants that are currently circulating,” continues Dr. Marquez. “You can save time by getting your updated COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot at the same time. In addition to helping you stay healthier, getting vaccinated can protect people around you, including those who are more vulnerable like babies and young children, older people, and people with chronic health conditions.”
For the 2023-2024 season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following:
COVID-19 remains a significant public health concern and vaccination is the best protection against hospitalization and death. Updated COVID-19 vaccination enhances protection against current variants and reduces the risk of severe outcomes and long COVID. Check to see if you are up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccines by visiting the CDC’s website.
Last year was a moderately severe flu (influenza) season with 191 local flu-related hospitalizations. We are already seeing some Washtenaw cases and hospitalizations reported in September and early October.
Flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months old and older every year. The CDC recommends getting the flu vaccine before the end of October. Local flu activity typically increases during or after the December holidays, so it is important to be vaccinated before then.
See washtenaw.org/flu for ongoing information and surveillance on this year’s flu season.
RSV is a common respiratory virus that causes mild, cold-like symptoms for most individuals. However, infants and older adults are more likely to develop severe RSV.
RSV vaccines are available for adults 60 and older. If you are 60+, talk with your doctor to see if RSV vaccination is right for you.
There are two ways to protect babies from getting very sick with RSV. One is an RSV vaccine given during pregnancy (32-36 weeks). The other is an RSV immunization that provides antibodies to your baby after birth. Talk with your doctor about RSV protection for your baby.
Many of the same tools we use to prevent the spread of COVID-19 also help prevent the spread of flu and RSV. In addition to getting vaccinated, it is important to stay home if you are sick, cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough, wash your hands often using soap and warm water, and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs. Wearing a surgical, KN95, or N95 mask around others can also help prevent the spread of illness.
Check our local COVID-19 community level to see current COVID prevention recommendations: https://bit.ly/WCC19LVL
Flu and updated COVID-19 vaccines are widely available at local health care providers, pharmacies, and community events. See www.vaccines.gov/search/ for local options.
RSV vaccines are available at local health care providers and pharmacies. The Health Department does not have RSV vaccines or RSV antibody immunizations.
Most people with insurance can get flu shots at their doctors’ offices or pharmacies without any additional cost.
Most people can still get a COVID-19 vaccine for free. For people with health insurance, most plans will cover COVID-19 vaccines at no cost, although you may need to use an approved, in-network pharmacy or health care facility. Check with your insurance provider if you have questions.
People who don’t have health insurance or who have health plans that do not cover the cost of COVID-19 vaccines, can get a free vaccine from local pharmacies participating in the CDC’s Bridge Access Program. Search for these pharmacies using www.vaccines.gov/search/.
Washtenaw County Health Department has flu vaccine and a limited amount of updated COVID-19 vaccine. If you have private health insurance, please go to your doctor or pharmacy to get your COVID vaccine. The cost for the COVID vaccine has changed and we are now charging insurance. We accept Medicaid, Blue Care Network, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. We cannot bill other private insurance, but can accept out-of-pocket payments if we don't accept your insurance. We won’t deny services to people who are unable to pay. To schedule a flu or COVID vaccine with us, call 734-544-6700.
The Vaccinate Washtenaw program provides fare-free, accessible transportation to any vaccination appointment.
If you can't easily leave your home to get your COVID-19 vaccine, Disability Rights Michigan can help.
If you are homebound and neither of these above options work for you, please call 800-852-1232 or email [email protected] for assistance from the state health department’s VNA (Visiting Nurses Association) Vaccine Assistance Project.
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