The Health Department is urging New Yorkers to roll up (both of) their sleeves to protect themselves against COVID-19 and the flu.
With updated bivalent boosters – that offer stronger protection against the omicron variant and sub-lineages – and flu season upon us, now is the perfect time to get both shots in a single appointment.
“As we head into the fall and winter seasons, the best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 and influenza is to be up-to-date on your vaccinations,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. “The flu vaccine has protected New Yorkers for decades and this is the perfect time of year to pair it with a COVID-19 booster shot if eligible.”
All New Yorkers 6 months and older should get a seasonal flu vaccine. New Yorkers 50 and older, children 6 months to 5 years, those with chronic conditions and pregnant people are at particular risk of serious outcomes from influenza. Every year, about 2,000 New Yorkers die of seasonal flu and pneumonia, which can develop as a complication of the flu. Flu vaccine lowers the risk of hospitalization and death due to flu.
Everyone ages 6 months and older should get the COVID-19 vaccine, including a booster dose for everyone ages 5 years and older. The updated, bivalent COVID-19 boosters are more effective at protecting against the latest variants, and are available for all New Yorkers ages 12 and older, whose last COVID-19 vaccination was more than two months ago. While 80% of New Yorkers have completed their primary series of vaccination, only 40% have received an additional dose.
The Health Department is taking steps to promote the new boosters, launching a vaccination advertising campaign, engaging with providers, activating community partnerships and supporting work through the Public Health Corps.
New Yorkers can find a flu vaccine and a COVID-19 booster nearest them by using the City’s Vaccine Finder. The flu and COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time.
Among people 18 years of age and older, 49% reported that they received a flu vaccine. The U.S. Healthy People 2030 goal for flu vaccine coverage is 70% for all ages, so New York City is significantly below that among its adult population. Additionally, there were significant inequities in vaccination by race/ethnicity. Compared to non-Latino White adults, adults who identify as non-Latino Black, Latino, and non-Latino Other Race received flu vaccine at lower rates (54.5% vs 40.9%, 45.1%, and 44.3%, respectively). Asian adults had similar rates to White adults (55.8%).
Among adults aged 65 years and older, little difference was seen by race/ethnicity. Overall, 68.5% of older adults reported that they received the flu vaccine; coverage was 65.5%, 67.7%, 70.2%, and 70.8% in Latino, non-Latino Black, non-Latino Asian/Pacific Islander, and non-Latino White older adults, respectively.
A typical influenza season usually starts in the late fall and lasts throughout the spring. Since influenza activity can be unpredictable and influenza viruses can be found year-round, it is important to get the vaccine as early as possible, though it is never too late to be vaccinated. A flu vaccine is necessary each year because the vaccine provides protection for only one season.
For more on flu, including symptoms, vaccination events, and where to get vaccination go to the New York City Health Department’s influenza webpage: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/health/health-topics/flu-seasonal.page
COVID-19 and influenza share many common symptoms, so it is important to get tested if you suspect you may have either illness as diagnosis can impact treatment.