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If you are not at high risk, you should get your updated bivalent COVID booster no later than Halloween. October is the sweet spot for both flu and COVID boosters right now for most. If you’re medically at higher risk or have large events sooner, consider getting your shots now. You don’t want to wait too long, because it takes about two weeks for it to kick in. Getting both your flu and booster by the end of October gives you time for it to kick in before the major travel holidays of Thanksgiving, and ensures that you’ll be at maximum protection for the winter holidays and early January, which is when case counts peaked during the Omicron surge last year. You can go get your flu and COVID shots together, too.
It’s possible. The new bivalent COVID booster has about the same side effects as each of the first three or four doses you’ve had - so if you were hit hard before by those shots, you might expect that again. Flu tends to have similar side effects, including soreness at the injection site on your arm, headache, fatigue, and in fewer cases, fever. Getting both shots at once does increase your chances of having more side effects, though most tend to only be 24 hours or so. Ultimately, it’s up to you if you prefer to spread them out. We recommend getting both by the end of October, with the booster first to offer you better protection now and the flu shot second since flu numbers are still lower than COVID cases.
It’s true that BA.5 cases are slowing and new variants are entering the scene, like BA.4.6, BA.2.75 and BF.7. Still, nearly all cases are Omicron subvariants, and the new boosters are formulated for those. Plus over 75% of US cases are still BA.5, which is a good match for the booster. This is another good reason to go get boosted sooner rather than later – right now, the booster offers really strong protection against all of the Omicron-related variants circulating. If we wait to get boosted or skip the updated booster, we may miss the chance to reduce case rates and get a handle on the fall surge before a new variant comes on the scene.
There’s no clear definition of when a pandemic is over. Right now, we are seeing about 65,000 new cases each day - and that’s just what’s being reported. With at-home testing and some people not testing at all, the real case count is likely much higher. 400 people per day are still dying. So, while the President saying that the pandemic is over reflects the national attitude about prevention measures, it doesn’t match the stats, or take into account the devastating toll of long COVID on the millions of people who will be infected. We’re not in a state of emergency in the same way anymore, but we’re also not done with this virus because it’s not done with us. Instead, we’re operating through and with COVID, and will continue to need to take preventative measures like getting updated boosters and staying home when sick to continue doing so safely. If we don’t, we can expect to continue seeing surges that interrupt business and force employees to lose hours due to sickness or temporary closures.