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Washington Health officials urge public to prepare for respiratory illness season

A vaccination center worker inoculates a woman with the Biontech vaccine against Covid-19 in Lower Saxony.
Moritz Frankenber
dpa/picture alliance via Getty I
A vaccination center worker inoculates a woman with the Biontech vaccine against Covid-19 in Lower Saxony.

State healthcare officials are urging people, especially those who are vulnerable, to prepare for “respiratory illness season.” That’s when influenza, RSV, and COVID-19 are most prevalent.

Secretary of Health Umair Shah said vulnerable people should make a care plan in case they get a respiratory illness, and figure out where they can get tested. They should also get vaccinated against all three illnesses, and have a stock of tests and masks on hand.

“Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions and either way, take action and make the plans now,” Shah said.

The COVID-19 booster will soon be arriving in area pharmacies. RSV vaccines are also now available for older adults, and a new monoclonal antibody preventative treatment is available for infants under eight months, or medically vulnerable babies.

Michele Roberts, the Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Health, said the booster has not rolled out quite as fast as it did last year because the COVID-19 emergency declaration has ended. She said the commercial, shipping process takes a little bit longer than when governments were purchasing, and distributing vaccines. But, shots should soon be available for everyone.

“It’s going to take a couple of weeks, and in areas where maybe there's a little bit less access, because there's fewer providers, it may seem like it's going to take a little while longer,” she said. “Again, we have been assured and have seen the data, there will be plenty of vaccine for all, and I think we have time over the next month or two to get everybody vaccinated.”

The CDC has recommended everyone get the COVID-19 vaccine, with a special emphasis on vulnerable groups including older adults, and people with some health conditions.

How many doses you should get depends on what type of vaccine you previously received, and if you already have had a booster. Roberts said people should reach out to their healthcare provider now to consult about the vaccine, and schedule an appointment.