WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: New vaccines for COVID, RSV and flu are now available. Californians need to prepare now for winter viruses by getting vaccinated for respiratory infections and taking simple prevention steps to stay healthy.
SACRAMENTO – With Halloween, holiday gatherings and winter fast approaching, state public health leaders today reminded Californians that a few simple steps can help keep the whole family healthy this winter. In a briefing with the media, Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer, noted that now is the time to start preparing for cold and flu season by getting vaccinated to reduce the risk of getting seriously ill from the flu, COVID-19 and RSV. It’s also time to remember tried-and-true prevention measures, including frequent hand washing, wearing a mask if sick or when around other people indoors, and staying home when sick, that help slow the spread of many viruses.
“As more people are heading indoors for school, fitness routines, and festive gatherings, Californians are getting exposed to respiratory viruses,” said Dr. Aragón. “Anyone can be affected by winter illnesses, however, some individuals, including older adults, people with weakened immune systems or chronic conditions, pregnant people and young children are at higher risk for severe illness and death. If you are at higher risk, or have loved ones who are, check with your health care provider now to find out which vaccinations are right for you. It’s important we all do our part by getting vaccinated and taking simple prevention steps so we can all enjoy time with friends and family.”
RECOMMENDED VACCINES: The best time to get immunized is now, before viruses start to spread. CDPH recommends all individuals remain up to date on vaccines to prevent serious illness and to limit the spread of viruses.
- Flu: Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine annually, ideally before the end of October.
- COVID-19: Everyone 6 months and older should get the newly updated COVID-19 vaccine.
- RSV: Adults 60 years of age and older should talk to their health care provider about getting an RSV vaccine as soon as it is available in their community. It is also recommended that pregnant persons between 32 and 36 weeks of pregnancy receive the vaccine between September and January. Additional immunization options are available to protect all infants 8 months and younger and high-risk children between 8 - 19 months.
With all immunizations, CDPH encourages individuals to check with their health care provider to determine which are available for them and their families.
WHERE TO GET VACCINATED: Flu, COVID-19, and RSV vaccines can all be administered during the same visit. Schedule a vaccine appointment by visiting MyTurn.ca.gov or contacting your local pharmacy or health care provider.
COST: Those having difficulty obtaining vaccines can contact their health care provider or local health department for help finding a place to get immunized. COVID-19 and flu vaccines will continue to be free for most people through their health insurance plans, including Medi-Cal and regular healthcare providers.
The CDC’s Bridge Access Program will provide COVID-19 vaccines to uninsured and underinsured adults through December 2024. The Vaccines For Children (VFC) program is a federally funded program that provides vaccines at no cost to children (18 and younger) who might not otherwise be vaccinated because of inability to pay.
VIRUS PREVENTION: The best defense against winter viruses starts with good prevention. Follow these simple tips to protect yourself and others:
- Stay Up to Date on Vaccines: Vaccines are the best defense against severe illness and death.
- Stay Home if You're Sick: Staying home when you’re sick slows the spread of flu, RSV, COVID-19, and even the common cold.
- Test and Treat: Test for COVID-19 and flu if you have symptoms (like fever, cold, cough, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, stomach issues). If you test positive, contact your health care provider, and ask about medications. Medications work best when started right after symptoms begin. Learn more about COVID-19 treatments and flu treatments.
- Consider Wearing a High-quality Mask (N95, KN95, KF94) in Indoor Public Places: Wearing a mask significantly reduces the spread of respiratory viruses, especially in crowded or poorly ventilated spaces.
- Wash Your Hands: Wash hands throughout the day with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Cover Your Cough or Sneeze: Remember to cough or sneeze into your elbow, your arm, or a disposable tissue to help prevent the spread of viruses. Wash or sanitize your hands and dispose of your tissue after.