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Deschutes County Public Health offers respiratory season guidance, vaccine updates

Deschutes County Public Health

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- As we head into respiratory season, Deschutes County Public Health says it wants to help residents stay healthy and protect themselves from illnesses such as COVID-19, RSV and Influenza.

Here's their full guidance statement, issued Friday:

Public Health recommends frequent handwashing, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, being aware of ventilation in shared spaces, staying home while ill, wearing a mask, avoiding crowded spaces and ensuring you are up to date on your vaccinations.

Updated COVID-19 Vaccine

This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized an updated COVID-19 monovalent vaccine dose for people ages six months and older. Following the authorization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended the updated vaccines for all individuals ages six months and older. 

These updated COVID-19 vaccines are formulated to more closely target currently circulating variants and to provide better protection against serious consequences of COVID-19, including hospitalization and death. These vaccines have been updated to include a monovalent (single) component that corresponds to the Omicron variant XBB.1.5.

Due to the end of the COVID-19 emergency and the commercialization of COVID-19 vaccinations, COVID-19 vaccines will be distributed and paid for in a new way this fall. The majority of vaccine will be purchased and distributed directly from the manufacturers to pharmacies and health care providers, similar to influenza vaccine. 

For many people, insurance will cover the cost of vaccines. People with Medicare and Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid) coverage will continue to have no-cost access to COVID-19 vaccination. A supply of vaccine will also be available for uninsured and underinsured individuals at no cost through CDC Bridge Program.

Due to this shift, Deschutes County Health Services will only be receiving limited doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and will not be providing large community vaccine clinics. This year, we will continue to focus our COVID-19 and influenza vaccination efforts to those:

  • in congregate settings like shelters and long-term care facilities
  • most at risk for severe disease
  • who may not have other ways of accessing these vaccines including uninsured

What you need to know about COVID-19 authorization this fall:

  • Individuals five years of age and older regardless of previous vaccination are eligible to receive a single dose of an updated mRNA COVID-19 vaccine at least two months since the last dose of any COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Individuals six months through four years of age who have previously been vaccinated against COVID-19 are eligible to receive one or two doses of an updated mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (timing and number of doses to administer depends on the previous COVID-19 vaccine received).
  • Unvaccinated individuals six months through four years of age are eligible to receive three doses of the updated authorized Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine or two doses of the updated authorized Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

“In addition to COVID-19, other respiratory illnesses can also impact our health. In alignment with federal and state partners, we are committed to minimizing the spread of COVID-19 within our local communities this fall and winter, when respiratory viral infections often surge,” said Dr. Richard Fawcett, Deschutes County Health Officer. “One of the most effective methods of preventing the transmission and severe outcomes of these contagious diseases is through vaccination. We are excited and ready to promote the administration and allocation of this updated COVID-19 vaccine and influenza vaccine in central Oregon as we head into the fall and winter months.”

Additional vaccine information

  • RSV vaccines are available now locally for individuals 60 years and older. 
  • Flu vaccines are available now locally for individuals six months and older.
  • COVID-19 vaccines will be available locally in mid- to late September for individuals six months and older.
  • For most people, the quickest and easiest way to receive a dose will be to reach out to your pharmacist or health care provider.
  • Call the COVID-19 Hotline at 541-699-5109 if you or your family have questions or trouble accessing vaccines.

Make a plan in case you are sick this winter

Remember to also think about how you can prepare in case you do get sick. Make a plan for missing work, isolation away from other household members and child care. 

 Ask yourself if you have:

  • Access to therapeutics - talk to your doctor to make a plan if you are at high risk to know how to access programs like Oregon Health Authority Color Health COVID-19 Treatment.   
  • Medicine cabinet staples - pain relievers, decongestants, and cough medicine.
  • Kitchen pantry staples - food that stores well, is nourishing and you’ll feel like eating while sick.
  • Other essentials - tissues, hand soap and hand sanitizers.
Article Topic Follows: Deschutes County

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