As we move into fall, it is important that everyone – especially older adults – get an annual flu shot. Flu vaccines are updated each season because flu viruses are constantly changing. Also, immunity wanes over time. Annual vaccination helps to ensure the best possible protection for older adults, their family members and our community against the flu. Getting a flu shot this season can also help reduce strain on our healthcare systems as they work to treat COVID-19 patients.
Accordinng to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people 65 and older should get a higher dose or adjuvanted flu vaccine. These vaccines are preferred for people 65 years and older because data show they may be more effective than standard dose flu vaccines. Older adults should speak to their doctor for more information about the flu vaccine that is best for them. Flu vaccines are widely available but older adults should call ahead to their preferred provider to ensure they have the higher dose flu vaccine. To find a flu vaccination location in your community, visit www.vaccinefinder.org.
According the CDC, it is safe to get a COVID-19 booster and flu shot at the same time. However, because both vaccinations are important, the CDC cautions against putting off one vaccination for the convenience of being able to receive both at the same time.
The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved the COVID-19 bivalent booster for people ages 5 and older. Compared with those who received the original COVID-19 (monovalent) booster, the bivalent booster is more effective at preventing the current COVID-19 subvariant (Omicron subvariant BA. 1) circulating in our community.
Everyone age 5 and older (especially those who have chronic or underlying health conditions), regardless of which vaccine they originally received, is encouraged to receive a COVID-19 bivalent booster. Individuals ages 5 and older are eligible for a bivalent booster at least 2 months after their most recent COVID-19 vaccine dose.
How to get a COVID-19 booster:
COVID-19 vaccines are widely available in our community. Individuals should have no difficulty finding a vaccine provider in their community – Council on Aging can provide transportation to COVID-19 vaccination appointments, if needed. Most doctors’ offices, public health departments, health clinics, pharmacies and large retailers (Target, Walmart, Costco) offer vaccinations. It’s a good idea to call ahead to make sure an appointment is not needed.
Individuals should bring thier COVID-19 vaccination card with them when they receive their booster shot so it can be updated. Lost cards can be replaced by contacting the original vaccine provider. Alternatively, Hamilton County Public Health can process replacement cards for anyone vaccinated in Ohio. Use the request form on the health department’s website or call (513) 946-7800 for assistance.
In certain circumstances, Council on Aging may be able to assist individuals who are unable to leave their homes to get their COVID-19 vaccine or booster. Homebound (in-home) vaccinations are available on a limited basis (flu shots are NOT available). Individuals who are able, are encouraged to use a community-based vaccination provider to reserve in-home vaccinations for those who truly need them.
Who to contact for assistance:
Individuals enrolled in a Council on Aging program who need assistance with transportation to a vaccination appointment or who require an in-home vaccination may contact Council on Aging via one of the phone numbers below. Individuals who are NOT enrolled in a Council on Aging program but require an in-home COVID-19 booster may call (513) 721-1025 and press 0 to be connected to a receptionist for assistance. COA is available by phone 8am-5pm, Monday-Friday.
- PASSPORT Clients: (513) 592-2777
- Aetna MyCare Ohio Clients: (513) 827-3443
- Hamilton County Elderly Services Program Clients: (513) 592-2800
- Butler County Elderly Services Program Clients: (513) 868-9281
- Warren County Elderly Services Program Clients: (513) 695-2271
- Clinton County Elderly Services Program Clients: (855) 800-7980
Finally, in addition to getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and the flu, there are things individuals can do to stay healthy this fall and winter.
- Wash hands or use hand sanitizer frequently.
- Practice social distancing and stay away from others if you are not feeling well.
- Wear a mask in public places, when you are unable to practice social distancing or when you are around others who have not been vaccinated.