Pharmacies as well as the West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District are offering flu and COVID-19 vaccines.
By Ronni Newton
The arrival of autumn is also associated with the arrival of respiratory virus season, and officials are urging the community to obtain their seasonal flu vaccine, as well as the updated COVID vaccine.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal was among those opting to get both the flu and COVID shots at the same time, rolling up his sleeve Tuesday morning at the CVS at 1099 New Britain Avenue in West Hartford so that Robert George, the store’s pharmacy manager, could administer the vaccines.
“No, actually it didn’t,” the senator said when asked if it hurt. George urged Blumenthal to keep moving his arm, and to drink plenty of fluids.
“These vaccines, these shots, are safe and effective. They are quick, painless, and they are free,” Blumenthal said during a brief press conference following his vaccinations. The vaccines are covered by insurance companies, and those who do not have insurance can receive the shots at no charge through a federal program.
“Why did I come here? Because I want to save others as well as myself,” he said. And while COVID cases are much lower than they were at many points since the pandemic began in 2020, they are on the rise and health officials expect that trend to continue throughout the fall and winter.
In Connecticut, according to the Department of Public Health website 469 cases of COVID-19 – 211 of which were in nursing homes – as well as 33 cases of influenza, and 9 cases of RSV were reported in the week ending Sept. 23, which is the last full week for which data was available. As of Thursday, there were 149 reported cases of COVID-19 for the week that will end Sept. 30. The data does not include the results of home tests which generally go unreported.
As of Sept. 23, there were 288 individuals in Connecticut hospitalized with COVID-19, the majority of whom were over age 80.
“For a lot of people, this shot can be a matter of life and death. Let’s just be very blunt,” Blumenthal said, with certain groups of people very susceptible to the negative effects of COVID. “Save yourself, save others.”
These shots will “help prevent another repeat of something nobody wants to go through again. We’ve seen this movie, we know it doesn’t end well,” he said.
Blumenthal said he received both flu and COVID shots at the same time on the advice of his primary care physician, who said it was not only safe to receive them together but advisable. Many who get one of the shots don’t get around to returning to a pharmacy or clinic to receive the other.
“When you think about the person getting vaccinated, not only are they protected, but it also protects the greater community, the broader community as well,” said Carly Marshal, CVS Pharmacy Division vice president. CVS has provided more than 88 million vaccinations since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and also administers vaccines for flu, shingles, RSV, and other viruses.
The updated COVID vaccine now being administered was approved by the FDA on Sept. 14, and helps combat the XBB.1.5 variant which is currently causing the majority of COVID cases.
The West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District is holding a series of public clinics during October and November, where residents ages 4 and up can get a seasonal flu vaccine. High dose (for ages 65 and up), regular, and pediatric flu vaccines will be available.
Those attending the clinics are asked to bring identification, insurance card (including Medicare and supplemental cards), and should wear short sleeves. Insurance plans that are accepted include Aetna, Anthem BC/BS, Cigna, Medicaid, Medicare Part B, United Health/Oxford, and ConnectiCare.
Those who do not have insurance will be charged a fee of $20 for pediatric flu vaccine, $50 for the adult vaccine, and $75 for the high dose vaccine. Cash or check will be accepted; no credit cards.
The West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District will also administer COVID boosters vaccines at the Bloomfield office location, by appointment only. Call 860-561-7900 for more information or to schedule an appointment.
The Health District states that “getting a flu vaccine this year is more important than ever.” More information about the benefits of getting a flu vaccine can be found on the Centers for Disease Control’s website.
Upcoming clinic dates
- Thursday, Oct. 12: West Hartford Town Hall auditorium, 2:30-5:30 p.m.
- Saturday, Oct. 14: Conard High School cafeteria, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
- Monday, Oct. 16: Hall High School cafeteria, 2:30-5:30 p.m.
- Tuesday, Oct. 17: Bloomfield Senior Center (330 Park Ave.), 10 a.m.-noon and 4-6 p.m.
- Thursday, Oct. 26: Elmwood Community Center auditorium, 10 a.m.-noon
- Thursday, Oct. 26: Town Hall auditorium, 2:30-5:30 p.m.
- Tuesday, Oct. 31: Bishops Corner Senior Center, 10 a.m.-noon
- Thursday, Nov. 9: Elmwood Community Center auditorium, 10 a.m.-noon
- Tuesday, Nov. 14: Bloomfield Senior Center, (330 Park Ave.) 10 a.m.-noon
- Tuesday, Nov. 28: Bishops Corner Senior Center, 10 a.m.-noon
For more information, please contact the West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District at 860-561-7900.
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