Updated COVID-19 vaccine has been recommended for everyone 6 months and older by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This follows authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and recommendation by CDC’s immunization advisory panel. These updated vaccines, referred to as the 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine, were developed to more closely target variants that are currently causing disease thereby providing better protection against serious COVID-19, including hospitalization and death. The updated COVID-19 vaccines are similar to earlier COVID-19 vaccines which were safely administered to hundreds of millions of Americans during the pandemic.
The updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine is arriving just in time for Fall and Winter when respiratory viruses like COVID-19, flu, and RSV spread. In Fairfax County, we have already seen an increase in COVID-19 illness in recent weeks including more COVID-19 hospitalizations, increases in the percent of emergency department visits with COVID-19, and more COVID-19 outbreaks reported.
Staying up to date and getting the new, updated vaccine is important. The virus continues to evolve and protection against it from previous vaccination decreases over time. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a safer, more reliable way to build protection than getting sick with COVID-19. Getting vaccinated also reduces your chances of getting long COVID, which can last weeks, months, and even years, after initial illness. Anyone 6 months and older who has gone more than 2 months since their last COVID-19 vaccination is eligible for the new shot.
Like the annual flu vaccine, the new COVID-19 vaccine will be available for everyone who wants them through local health care providers and pharmacies, and you can get both vaccines during the same visit. These vaccines will be covered by health insurance. See where to get Flu and COVID-19 vaccines at vaccines.gov.
For individuals who do not have health insurance, no-cost vaccine will be available at clinics, doctor’s offices, and pharmacies participating in the Vaccines For Children and Vaccines for Adults (Bridge to Access) programs. Contact your health care provider to find out if they participate in these programs. Local health departments will also have a limited supply available for the uninsured and underinsured. In the weeks ahead, Fairfax Health District residents may call 703-246-7100 to make an appointment.
Along with getting vaccinated, take the following steps to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses:
- Do not go to work or school while sick. If you are ill, stay home except to seek health care.
- Get tested for COVID-19 if you are sick.
- Seek treatment if you have COVID-19 and are at high risk of getting very sick.
- Remind yourself of what to do if you have or were exposed to COVID-19. VDH and CDC both have guidance.
- Practice good hand hygiene. Please continue to frequently wash your hands or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- If you choose to wear a mask, wear a high-quality one that fits well over your nose and mouth. You can choose to mask at any time.
See more ways to keep you and your loved ones safe as we head into the fall season.
Continue to follow the Health Department for updates about COVID-19, the flu, and RSV on our website and social media channels.