It’s not only flu season, but add COVID-19 to the annual fall and winter virus season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended earlier this week that everyone 6 months and older get an updated COVID-19 vaccine now.

They say the vaccine will be available at most places you would normally go to get your vaccines.  If you haven’t had a COVID-19 vaccine in the past two months, it’s recommended you get the updated one to protect yourself in the months ahead.  “Vaccination remains the best protection against COVID-19-related hospitalizations.  Vaccination also reduces your chance of suffering the effects of Long COVID, which can develop during or following acute infection and last for an extended period of time,” said CDC Director Mandy Cohen, M.D.

The new vaccine is designed to fight current variants of COVID-19, including BA.2.86.  The updated vaccines are still the best way to stay protected against severe disease.  “These new vaccines are formulated to more closely target currently circulating variants, particularly the omicron variant XBB.1.5,” said Cohen.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include:  fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body ache, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, diarrhea and nausea or vomiting.  Symptoms can last anywhere from 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus.

The cost of the updated COVID vaccine will vary, depending on the manufacturer.  The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will be $120 per dose; Moderna will be $129 per dose; and the Novavax vaccine will be $130 per dose.  The vaccines are covered by insurance, including private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid plans.  Uninsured children and uninsured adults will have access through the Vaccine for Children Program and Bridge Access Program.

“This is the first fall and winter virus season where vaccines are available for the three viruses responsible for most hospitalizations, COVID-19, RSV, and flu,” according to a news release from the CDC.

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