As we enter the fall and winter seasons, it is important to be aware of respiratory viruses that usually circulate more heavily in the community during this time, including COVID-19, the seasonal influenza virus (flu), and the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Although some people have mild symptoms when they contract COVID-19, flu or RSV, others can get sick enough to be hospitalized. Some seasons are more severe than others based on the circulating strains of the viruses and our immunity to those viruses.

Flu and COVID-19 vaccination remains the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against these viruses and their potentially serious outcomes. This is especially true for those who are at higher risk of developing severe illness, including older populations and those with underlying medical conditions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine every season to reduce flu illnesses, visits to doctor’s offices, and missed work and school. Additionally, the flu vaccine can make symptoms less severe and prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths. Please visit to find available flu vaccines near you. 

Earlier this month, the CDC recommended updated formulations of Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines. These updated vaccines can restore protection and provide enhanced protection against circulating variants in the U.S. this fall and winter season. The CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines to gain the best defense this season.

The majority of Americans can still get COVID-19 vaccines at no cost to you. Adults without health insurance or with health plans that do not cover the cost, can get a free vaccine from their local health centers as well as state, local, tribal or territorial health department and pharmacies participating in the CDC’s Bridge Access Program (BAP).

Please visit to find a BAP provider offering no-cost COVID-19 vaccines near you. Please note, availability is likely to increase in the coming weeks. The Vaccines for Children program is also offering free COVID-19 vaccines for eligible children at participating provider locations. For those with health insurance, you may contact your primary care provider to request a COVID-19 vaccine. Please visit or to find a vaccine near you.  

In addition to COVID-19 vaccinations, it is important to get tested when experiencing symptoms or if you have been exposed to COVID-19. Testing for COVID-19 can help you make informed decisions about your health and risks of spreading COVID-19 to others. Antigen tests or “at-home tests” are convenient rapid tests that can usually provide results within 15-30 minutes. Please visit the SBCOVID19 website to find a free COVID-19 test kit near you.

Additional County Update News – October 6, 2023