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Are you ready for respiratory illness season?

Fall is almost here. Time for football, pumpkin spice, and seeing leaves change color. This also means respiratory illness season—that time of year when COVID-19, flu, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) circulate in our community. 

You may wonder: How do I protect myself? What about those close to me? Or maybe you have older or vulnerable loved ones you’re worried about. 

You can take simple steps to protect you and those you care about. The more we protect ourselves, the safer everyone is! 

A look at the illnesses 

Respiratory illnesses often increase in the fall and winter, as we spend more time indoors. Flu season can vary, but often begins to increase in October and lasts until May. RSV often circulates during late fall into the spring. And we’ve seen a spike in reported COVID-19 cases in recent months. These respiratory illnesses can cause: 

  • Cough. 
  • Fever. 
  • Sore throat. 
  • Body aches. 

You‘re at higher risk to get very sick if you’re: 

  • Under age 5 (especially under 2 years). 
  • Over age 65. 
  • Pregnant. 
  • Living with a health condition, like asthma, diabetes, or heart disease. 

What you can do

Take simple steps to reduce your chance of getting sick or infecting others:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water. This is the simplest thing you can do to prevent the spread of germs and disease.
  • Stay home if you’re sick.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Consider wearing a mask around those most at risk.
  • Limit the time you spend in childcare centers or other potentially contagious settings.
  • Get vaccinated. Each of these respiratory illnesses has a safe and effective vaccine. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone 6 months or older get the new, updated (2023–2024) COVID-19 vaccine. 

Everyone 6 months or older should get a flu shot.

RSV vaccine is now available to help protect people who are 60 years or older or immune-compromised. It will soon be available for those who are pregnant. CDC is also recommending a new immunization starting this fall to help protect all infants under 8 months and some older babies at increased risk of severe illness caused by RSV.

Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacy when and where you can get all your doses of vaccine. Learn more about COVID-19flu, and RSV vaccines. 

Sick man on couch