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As the weather gets colder and more of us gather indoors with loved ones, flu and COVID-19 vaccines (including updated boosters) are critically important in protecting health. The Washtenaw County Health Department encourages everyone to get a flu shot and stay up-to-date on all recommended COVID-19 vaccines.
“COVID-19 is still circulating locally and we’re heading into flu season,” says Juan Marquez, MD, MPH, Washtenaw County Health Department medical director. “Vaccination can protect against severe illness, hospitalization, and death due to flu and COVID-19, while also reducing the overall spread of illness locally. Getting vaccinated can also protect people around you, including those who are more vulnerable like babies and young children, older people, and people with chronic health conditions.”
Influenza has been more unpredictable this past year, with many local cases and hospitalizations occurring in April – June. 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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (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.
As we head into the colder months ahead, it’s especially important for everyone to make sure they are up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccines. Everyone 6 months old and older should get vaccinated.
All boosters are now the updated bivalent booster that protects against two strains of coronavirus. It is available to people 5 years and older that have completed their initial series.
“COVID-19 vaccines continue to be very protective in preventing the worst outcomes of COVID, but we know vaccine effectiveness can decline over time,” says Dr. Marquez. “That is why it’s critical that everyone gets up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccines. The longer out you are from your last dose, the more important it is to make sure you get boosted.”
Check to see if you are up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccines by visiting the CDC’s website.
Many of the same tools we use to prevent the spread of COVID-19 also help prevent the spread of flu. 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. Check our local COVID-19 community level to see current COVID prevention recommendations: https://bit.ly/WCC19LVL
Where to Get Vaccinated
Flu and COVID-19 vaccines are widely available at area health care providers, pharmacies, and community events. See vaccinefinder.org for local options. Most people with insurance can get flu shots at their doctors’ offices or pharmacies without any additional cost. COVID-19 vaccines continue to be free. Flu vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time.
The Washtenaw County Health Department (WCHD) has a limited amount of flu vaccine for children and adults regardless of insurance status or income. WCHD will not decline services to clients if they are unable to pay. Call 734-544-6700 to schedule an appointment. Capacity and appointments are limited due to ongoing COVID-19 vaccination and response efforts.
WCHD continues to provide COVID-19 vaccines. Schedule at https://bit.ly/wchdsched or by calling 734-544-6700. Those coming in for a COVID-19 vaccine may request a flu vaccine at the same time.
WCHD is hosting a drive-through COVID-19 vaccine booster clinic on Thursday, October 20 from 10:30am-3pm at 555 Towner in Ypsilanti:
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