COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — With the first week of fall in the books, it’s time to start thinking about flu season.
This year, doctors are recommending getting the flu shot and COVID-19 booster at the same time to ensure protection. With COVID still looming, doctors urge people to get their vaccines before it gets colder to decrease the spread of infections.
“We’re anticipating a very significant flu season in central Ohio, and with all of the evolution that COVID has done over the last few years, we could have a significant COVID surge as well,” Dr. Eric Cortez, an Emergency Department Medical Doctor at Ohio Health Doctors Hospital, said.
Cortez said this means our area could see a large amount of infections as well as complications from the virus. He said now is the perfect time to start thinking about getting your flu shot.
“The flu shot allows you to reduce your complications from the flu and there’s a lot of things that can happen when an individual is infected with the flu,” Cortez said.
He said the flu is always around, but peak season is typically mid-fall through the winter months. With COVID variants also continuing to evolve, he said it’s important to stay up to date on your boosters, too.
Medical professionals say you can get both shots at the same time to save you a trip, but talk with your primary physician first about risks.
“Previous reactions and experience with the vaccines, other comorbidities or other medical problems that an individual might have,” Cortez said.
Anyone over the age of 12 is eligible for the newest COVID booster, targeting specific variants. Doctors say anyone older than six months can get their flu shot.
People in Columbus said they aren’t taking any chances this year.
“It sounds like it is going to be a yearly thing you know, get the flu shot and the covid shot every year at the same time,” Greg Wolfe said.
At this point, COVID vaccines are still free to the public. However, Alexandria Jones, the Assistant Health Commissioner for Franklin County Public Health, said they predict that will change in the future.
She said there is no deadline to when this will move to the private market, but if it does, she said they have programs in place to ensure everyone can get the vaccines they need to protect themselves.
“So even when that does change and eventually transition over there are ways for individuals to make sure that they get vaccinated. And I know speaking for my local health department colleges we would never turn anyone away for inability to pay for those core vaccines,” Jones said.
Jones recommends starting to get those shots now before the weather starts getting colder and everyone is huddled inside. Appointments are available for both the flu and COVID boosters at your local health department.