As the time of year approaches where more people get sick from COVID-19, flu, and RSV, the Washtenaw County Health Department is encouraging everyone to update their vaccinations by getting 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,” Juan Marquez, MD, MPH, Washtenaw County Health Department medical director, said in a press release. “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.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone five years of age and older regardless of previous vaccination: get a single dose of an updated COVID-19 vaccine at least two months after your last COVID-19 vaccine dose. People who recently had COVID can consider delaying their vaccine by three months.
It is recommended that children six months through four years old complete a multi-dose initial series with at least one dose of the updated COVID-19 vaccine. As well as immunocompromised individuals complete a 3-dose initial series with at least one dose of the updated COVID-19 vaccine.
In 2023, COVID-19 remains a significant public health concern and the available vaccination is the best protection against hospitalization and death. By getting the updated COVID-19 vaccination, the protection against current variants are enhanced and and the risk of severe outcomes and long COVID is reduced.
Check to see if you are up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccines by visiting the CDC’s website.
Last year, Washtenaw County had 191 local flu-related hospitalizations and hospitalizations are already being reported in September and early October of this year.
Everyone 6 months old and older is recommended to get the flu vaccine every year, preferrably before the end of October since the virus tends to spread during or after the December holidays.
More informatino and surveillance on this year’s flu season can be found at washtenaw.org/flu.
RSV vaccines and antibody immunization
RSV is a common respiratory virus that causes mild, cold-like symptoms for most individuals. Severe RSV is more likely to effect infants and older adults.
Individuals 60 and older can get a RSV vaccine. Anyone over 60 can ask their doctor to see if RSV vaccination is right for them.
As for infant protection, there are two methods against RSV. The first is an RSV vaccine given during pregnancy (32-36 weeks). The other method of protection is an RSV immunization that provides antibodies to your baby after birth. Talk with your doctor about RSV protection for your baby.
It is recommended that people stay home if they are sick, cover their 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.
Individuals can also decide to wear a surgical, KN95 or N95 mask around others to help prevent the spread of illness.
The local COVID-19 community level can be found online.
Where to get vaccinated
According to the press release, flu and updated COVID-19 vaccines are available at local health care providers, pharmacies and community events.
Local health care providers and pharmacies provide RSV vaccines. The Health Department does not have RSV vaccines or RSV antibody immunizations.
Oftentimes, 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.
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 they are now charging insurance. They accept Medicaid, Blue Care Network and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. They cannot bill other private insurance. They will not deny services to people who are unable to pay.
To schedule a flu or COVID vaccine with the Washtenaw County Health Department, call 734-544-6700.
Through the Vaccinate Washtenaw program, fare-free and accessible transportation is available to any vaccination appointment.
- This program is open to any person of any age in Washtenaw County. Ride must begin and end in Washtenaw.
- Rides are booked through the AARP Ride@50+ Program, powered by Feonix – Mobility Rising. It’s a one phone call process to book the ride(s): just call 844-900-4892, and use code “Vaccinate Washtenaw.”
- Fare-free transportation made possible by grant funding from the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation.
If you can’t easily leave your home to get your COVID-19 vaccine, Disability Rights Michigan can help, the press release states.
- Call 1-800-288-5923 and let the representative know that you would like a COVID-19 vaccine given in your home.
- If you are getting a COVID-19 vaccine, they can also bring flu vaccine at the same time. Services are free and confidential.
If you are homebound and neither of these above options work for you, please call 800-852-1232 or email Murphys10@michigan.gov for assistance from the state health department’s VNA (Visiting Nurses Association) Vaccine Assistance Project.
- Handwashing flyers, signage, and mirror clings
- Health Department – Flu in Washtenaw County webpage
- Health Department – Flu Vaccine webpage
- CDC – Information for the 2023-2024 Flu Season
- Health Department – COVID-19 Vaccine webpage
- Health Department – RSV, COVID-19, and Influenza Hospitalizations
Local public health information and updates can be found at. washtenaw.org/health.
The Health Department also provides frequent social media updates (@wcpublichealth) and sends regular email updates.