Ahead of Fall Virus Season, CDC Recommends Updated COVID-19 Booster

Published on September 14, 2023

Just in time for the fall and winter virus season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved an updated COVID-19 vaccine. Updated vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna will be available later this week and expected to protect against newly circulating variants of COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and have been tested to meet the FDA and CDC’s rigorous scientific standards. The Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) strongly recommends everyone 6 months and older get an updated COVID-19 vaccine to protect against the potentially serious outcomes of COVID-19 illness. Timely vaccination is especially important for people who are immunocompromised or who live in a household with someone who is immunocompromised. 

“Every fall and winter, as kids head back to school and colder temperatures send folks inside, we see an increase in all respiratory viruses such as flu, RSV and COVID-19,” explains Bob McDonald, DDPHE’s Executive Director and Denver’s Public Health Administrator. “Getting vaccinated continues to be the most effective defense against hospitalization and death associated with COVID-19. It protects not only you, but everyone in our Denver community. Your health and well-being are worth the effort.”

Getting the updated COVID-19 vaccine minimizes the risk of experiencing the lingering symptoms of Long COVID. DDPHE recommends everyone over six months of age receive the updated vaccine unless they have received a COVID-19 vaccine in the last two months.

Most Denver residents can still get a COVID-19 vaccine for free. For people with health insurance, most plans cover COVID-19 vaccine at no cost. People who don’t have health insurance or with health plans that do not cover the cost can get a free vaccine from pharmacies participating in the CDC’s Bridge Access Program. Children eligible for the Vaccines for Children program also may receive the vaccine from a provider enrolled in that program. DDPHE is committed to making vaccines accessible and readily available in the community. Additional details about Denver-specific vaccine efforts will be forthcoming. More information about the COVID-19 vaccine is available at DenverGov.org/COVID19.

While you're visiting your healthcare provider for your COVID-19 vaccine, it's a good opportunity to talk to them about other routine vaccinations you might need to get caught up on, including the flu vaccine. Each year, the flu vaccine is updated based on potentially circulating variants. The typical flu season starts in October and ends in late Spring, with illnesses peaking in December-February. DDPHE recommends everyone over the age of 6 months should get vaccinated each year.

Getting a flu shot not only helps protect you from getting ill, but may also protect those around who are at higher risk of severe illness. You can even get a flu vaccine and a COVID-19 vaccine at the same visit if you are due for both vaccines. Learn more about the flu, where to find a flu vaccine as well as flu-related data on the DDPHE flu webpage.

In addition to COVID-19, flu and other routine vaccines, a new respiratory syncytial (RSV) vaccine is available and recommended for some older adults and infants. RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. While most people recover in a week or two, RSV can be serious. Infants and older adults are more likely to develop severe RSV and need hospitalization. Vaccines are available to protect older adults and monoclonal antibody products are available to protect infants and young children from severe RSV. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether the RSV vaccine is right for you and learn more on the DDPHE RSV webpage.

DDPHE continues to urge everyone to be mindful and take precautions when going about their fall and winter routines: practice good hand hygiene habits, and if you feel sick, stay home and get tested.