Flu, RSV, & COVID Vaccinations: All Your Vax Info in One Spotposted
Over the past month, we’ve posted a few blogs about what you need to know about flu, RSV, and COVID vaccinations. Today we’re re-releasing that content with a few updates so you’ll have all the respiratory season vaccination information in one spot. Let’s roll up our sleeves, Dane County!
Like in previous years, CDC recommends the flu vaccine for anyone ages 6 months and older. Get your flu shot by Halloween to help protect you throughout the fall and winter. If you’re pregnant, getting the flu shot during pregnancy can help protect your baby in their first six months of life, before they’re able to get their own flu vaccine. See the section Where you can vaccinated for more information.
CDC recommends everyone age 6 months and older get a fall 2023 COVID vaccine.
The vaccination provides protection against severe illness, hospitalization, and death among everyone, but especially among people most at risk, including adults 65 and older, people who are pregnant, and people who are immunocompromised.
This fall vaccine targets just one strain (in other words, it’s a monovalent vaccine, as opposed to last fall’s bivalent vaccine). This vaccine targets a recent variant of the omicron strain, called XBB.1.5.
You are eligible for the new vaccine if it has been at least 2 months since your last COVID vaccination.
If you have health insurance
- Most insurers cover the cost of flu and COVID vaccination, so if you have insurance, your vaccine should be free. Keep in mind you may have to use a pharmacy that accepts your insurance. Check with your insurance provider if you’re not sure.
- Most clinics and area pharmacies are offering the vaccine, though some may not have received their full shipment yet. Most should have their inventory in next few weeks. Visit vaccines.gov to find a vaccinator near you.
If you don’t have health insurance
Public Health Madison & Dane County can only vaccinate these groups of people for free:
- People who do not have health insurance
- People whose health insurance does not cover vaccinations
- Children (6 months to 18 years) who are on BadgerCare, who are eligible for BadgerCare, or who are Native American or Alaskan Native
Visit our website, publichealthmdc.com/appt, to see clinic hours and book an appointment.
While we’re all familiar with flu and COVID, RSV doesn’t usually get as much press. RSV is respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) virus. It’s a common respiratory virus that usually causes cold-like symptoms, but it can be serious. Infants and adults 65+ are more likely to develop severe RSV and need hospitalization. CDC tells us that each year in the United States, an estimated 58,000-80,000 children younger than 5 years old are hospitalized due to RSV infection. The fall 2022 season was especially severe.
This season we have new ways to help protect the babies and older adults most at risk:
Two vaccines were approved this year for adults 60 years and older. The vaccine is especially important for adults 60+ who have chronic heart or lung disease, weakened immune systems, certain underlying medical conditions, and those who live in nursing homes or long-term care facilities. CDC says people who are eligible should talk to their doctor about whether the 1-dose RSV vaccination is right for them. Because the shot is approved but not yet on the adult vaccine schedule, insurance may not cover it. Check with your insurer for costs and coverage before getting the shot. Medicare Part D does cover the cost.
Babies & Toddlers
This summer, an antibody therapy was approved for infants younger than 8 months old. As epidemiologist Dr. Katelin Jetelina put it, “This is not a vaccine (i.e., doesn’t teach the body to make antibodies) but rather a medication (it provides antibodies).” Infants should get the shot before their first RSV season. Kids 8-19 months old who are at increased risk for severe disease (for example, are severely immunocompromised) can also get the shot. Talk to your child’s pediatrician about timing and availability.
On September 22, the CDC recommended the first RSV vaccine for pregnant people. It is given between weeks 32 and 36 of pregnancy and helps protect babies through their first 6 months of life. In studies, this vaccine reduced the risk of RSV hospitalization for babies by 57 percent in the first six months after birth.
The vaccine is available in some locations in the U.S. and availability is expected to increase in the coming weeks. Read the CDC’s press release for more information.
Coming soon: A way to track respiratory virus activity in Dane County
You'll also soon be able to monitor trends in flu, RSV, COVID, and other viruses on our respiratory virus dashboard, launching this fall! Subscribe to our blog so you’re in the know when it launches.
Follow us on social media (@publichealthmdc on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) and subscribe to our blog to get the latest flu, RSV, and COVID news throughout the season.