Updated boosters are available in the fall

A person wearing blue gloves writes "COVID-19 Booster Shots" on paper

By Jennifer Dunlay

Following a recommendation from the Food and Drug Administration’s independent vaccine advisers, it is anticipated that a new COVID booster shot will be available this fall that will provide better protection against infection and serious disease from COVID-19.

Both Pfizer and Moderna are reformulating their vaccines to perform better against the extremely contagious omicron variant, including subvariants BA.4 and BA.5.

“Vaccines continue to be the single most important tool in preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death,” says Dr. Sanmi Areola, director for the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment.

“As we look to the fall and winter, everyone who is eligible should get vaccinated and boosted to limit the spread of infection in our community and protect those who are at high-risk of serious disease – people over age 65 and those with chronic medical conditions.”

JCDHE’s outreach nurses are available to help medically homebound Johnson County, Kansas residents get a COVID and flu vaccine. The Home Visiting Program provides COVID and flu shots free to individuals who can’t leave their home for medical reasons such as severe immobility, paralysis or being on a ventilator.

Barb Thompson, a registered nurse with the county’s outreach nurse program, says she starts giving flu shots in October before flu season begins.

“We bring it directly to them, so they don’ t miss out on this important protection,” Thompson said.

Individuals who are able to leave their home can find both flu and COVID vaccines readily available at most drugstores, grocery stories, warehouse clubs, urgent care clinics, public health departments, doctors’ offices and hospitals in Johnson County.

The flu vaccine is covered by Medicare and most Medicare supplemental insurance plans with no copay and COVID vaccines are always free. Both flu and COVID vaccinations have been shown to reduce illnesses and more serious outcomes that can result in hospitalization or even death in older people.

According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, influenza was the direct cause or contributing cause of death in 43 Kansas residents during the 2021-22 flu season. COVID-associated pneumonia was the contributing cause of death in 1,746 Kansas residents during the same time.

JCDHE recommends getting a seasonal flu vaccination by the end of October and staying up to date on COVID vaccines and boosters.

Flu shots (starting in the fall) and COVID vaccines are available to anyone six months and older at JCDHE’ s walk-in immunizations clinics in Olathe (1 1875 S. Sunset Drive) and Mission (6000 Lamar Ave.). Adults over age 65 will be offered the high-dose flu vaccine.

For more information about flu and COVID vaccines, call 913-826-1261 or visit jocogov.org/department/health/immunizations.

Jennifer Dunlay is the risk communicator for the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment. The information in this article was accurate at the time of publishing but is subject to change as new data become available.