Why to stay current with vaccinations

Two vials filled with COVID vaccines

By Jennifer Dunlay

The antibodies that protect you from getting infected from diseases like COVID-19 or flu sometimes need regular updates. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an annual flu shot and an updated COVID-19 booster this fall.

The updated COVID-19 booster, released in September, targets the most recent Omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5, that are more contagious and more resistant than earlier strains of Omicron. These updated COVID-19 boosters can both help restore protection that has decreased since previous vaccinations and provide broader protection against newer variants.

Getting an updated COVID-19 booster now, along with a flu shot, will protect you through the holiday season and into the winter months when flu and COVID-19 viruses tend to circulate the most. Anyone age 12 and older who has completed the two-dose primary series or received one or more of the original boosters at least two months ago is eligible for the updated COVID-19 booster.

Both the COVID-19 vaccines and boosters and the flu shot can be given safely at the same time and are available at the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment’s walk-in clinics in Olathe (11875 S. Sunset Drive) and Mission (6000 Lamar Ave.). You can also find them at many grocery stores, pharmacies, doctors’ offices and clinics.

COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are free of charge at JCDHE clinics.

Flu vaccines are covered by Medicare Part B and by most Medicare Advantage plans with no copay. The high-dose and seasonal flu shots are covered by most health insurance plans with no copays for adults who are not on Medicare. Those without insurance, the cost is $40 for the seasonal flu shot and $90 for the Flublok® Quadrivalent vaccine or the Fluzone® High-Dose vaccine.

For more information about COVID-19 boosters, flu vaccines and JCDHE’s clinic hours, call 913-826-1200 or visit jocogov.org.

Jennifer Dunlay is risk communicator at the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment.