Protect Your Loved Ones: The Importance of COVID Boosters

BARCELONA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 26: Maria, an elderly resident of the Feixa Llarga old people's home, receives the fifth dose of Covid-19 and the flu vaccine in the garden of the home on September 26, 2023 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Zowy Voeten/Getty Images)

By Amie Knowles

October 3, 2023

 The COVID-19 booster is now available, and provides better protection against currently circulating variants of the illness.

In a couple of weeks, Xavier Becerra will travel to see his mother for a special occasion. It’s her 90th birthday, and there’s going to be a celebration.

There’s one uninvited guest the family is striving to keep out of the party—and that’s COVID-19. Becerra, who serves as the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary, spoke at the department’s first-ever Hispanic Health Summit on Sept. 26. There, he shared that he had already received his COVID booster vaccine. It’s one way that he—and others—can help keep loved ones healthy and safe.

“I am not going to infect my mother who has not had COVID yet because she’s done everything the right way,” Becerra said. “And so I got my shot already. I hope you’re doing the same thing.”

On Sept. 11, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the green light for the updated COVID-19 mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna (you might also hear it called the “2023–2024 COVID-19 vaccine,” or the “COVID booster”). The update provides better protection against currently circulating variants of COVID-19. Getting the COVID booster is similar to getting a flu shot: We get it every year to protect ourselves. 

“Are you getting ready to go hug and kiss your grandma for the holidays? You need to get vaccinated,” Becerra said at the summit.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), getting the COVID-19 vaccine can help prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death as a result of the infection. 

The secretary expressed the importance of the booster, especially for people with loved ones who may have a weakened immune system. 

“So [that] Thanksgiving and the holidays in December for Christmas and the rest will be happy ones for all of you, including those who aren’t as healthy as you, who are more immunocompromised than you, and could use your love and protection,” Becerra said. “So please get vaccinated.”

Find a Vaccine Near You

If you’re interested in getting your COVID booster, there are several options available to you. Chain retail locations like CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart have appointments available. Click here to input your zip code and which COVID vaccine you’re hoping to get, and you’ll be able to find options close to you. Just be aware that there might be a bit of a wait for an appointment, due to supply. 

You can also use the same website to find locations offering the flu shot. The Arizona Department of Health Services and the CDC recommend yearly flu vaccines for those six months of age and older. 

It’s best to get the flu vaccine by the end of October, according to the FDA. The flu and COVID vaccines are safe to receive at the same time, and a multitude of providers offer that option. If you have any questions or concerns about vaccination, please contact your primary care provider. 

READ MORE: Updated COVID-19 Vaccine OK’d, Experts Urge People to Roll Up Their Sleeves

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