As colder weather approaches, many people are wondering where they can get vaccines for illnesses that typically increase in prevalence during the fall and winter.
COVID bivalent boosters
Bivalent boosters are expected to be available at Southwestern Vermont Health Care’s COVID Resource Center starting from 8 a.m. to noon today, Sept. 13, and continuing during the same hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The clinic will have both Pfizer and Moderna bivalent boosters available. See details, including eligibility and frequently asked questions, at svhealthcare.org/Wellness-Connection/bivalent-boosters. You can also search healthvermont.gov/MyVaccine for locations. Bivalent boosters are also expected to be available at pharmacies and primary care offices as supplies increase.
You can get your annual flu shot at pharmacies, your provider’s office or at flu clinics. Southwestern Vermont Health Care will run walk-in flu shot clinics on Saturdays throughout the month of October. We’ll post details on our website, on social media, and in our e-newsletter. Note that insurances will be billed and patients may receive a bill for the remaining cost.
High-dose flu vaccine
People who are 65 or older are eligible for a special high-dose flu vaccine. It contains four times as much of the flu virus antigen compared with standard flu shots. Older people sometimes don’t develop as strong an immune response when they get typical flu shots. Also, older people are at greatest risk of developing serious flu-related complications. High-dose flu vaccine is available at pharmacies, most provider’s offices, and at SVMC’s walk-in flu clinics on Saturdays in October. Note that insurances will be billed and patients may receive a bill for the remaining cost.
While monkeypox is not a seasonal virus, it is spreading right now. At this time, gay, bisexual and trans people make up a high number of early cases and might be at higher risk of coming into contact with the virus. The Vermont Department of Health has recently expanded eligibility for the vaccine to people from these groups. Anyone who has had an exposure to hMPXV or possible exposure should also get vaccinated. Call the Health Department to schedule an appointment at 802-863-7200, ext. 2, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Pneumonia is not a seasonal disease either, but it is often associated with the flu. So, now is as good a time as any to think about getting a pneumococcal vaccine, if you are eligible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the pneumococcal vaccine for all children under age 2 and all adults 65 and older. Pneumococcal vaccines are available at your local pharmacy and your provider’s office.
People in particular age groups need other vaccines. It is recommended that children and older adults, in particular, get several vaccines at specific times. Count on your primary care provider to remind you of the vaccines you need during regular checkups. We’ve seen in the news lately how important it is to get kids vaccinated on schedule, because it plays a large role in keeping serious illnesses under control.
Getting your vaccines at the right time can help you, your family and your community stay well throughout the colder months and beyond.