(BPT) - The holiday season is upon us. Nearly half of Americans are planning to travel for the holidays this year, according to a recent survey. With more people passing through high-contact spaces like airports and hotels and gathering with loved ones, it also means your exposure to respiratory illnesses will be greater in the coming weeks.
In recent years, the U.S. has seen a surge in COVID-19, flu and sometimes RSV activity during the holiday season.,, This year, we've already experienced major late summer spikes in COVID-19 activity nationwide and RSV activity in the Southeast., National flu activity is also steadily increasing, with a 50% rise in cases over the past week.
'While it's exciting to resume bigger holiday gatherings and trips, it's important to remember that respiratory illnesses are in circulation. We don't want to bring flu, COVID-19 or RSV home for the holidays,' says Michael Pedro, PharmD, Walgreens Pharmacist. 'I encourage everyone to get their recommended vaccines as soon as possible before you travel or gather, to allow time for immunity to fully develop and increase your protection. I also recommend COVID-19 and flu testing, because knowing for sure can help keep your family healthy this holiday season. Pharmacists are highly trained healthcare providers and are ready to discuss any questions you may have about vaccines, testing or other steps you can take to reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses.'
4 reasons to get vaccinated this holiday season
If you haven't gotten the flu, COVID-19 or RSV vaccine, it's not too late. Here are four reasons to put vaccination on your to-do list before you travel or gather with family and friends for the holidays.
- You're expanding your protection during peak respiratory illness season. While respiratory illness season is unpredictable, cases tend to peak during and after the holiday season, which is why the CDC recommends getting vaccinated around this time of year. Getting the flu, COVID-19 and RSV vaccines now will provide you with the best protection against getting seriously ill during potential surges later this winter.
- You're protecting your at-risk loved ones. Getting vaccinated reduces the chances that you'll spread respiratory illnesses to people who are at high risk of developing severe complications as they return to traveling and seeing their loved ones this year.
- It's easy when you come to Walgreens. Walgreens makes it simple for you and your loved ones to get all the vaccines you need ahead of the holidays in one visit. You can easily schedule online or using the Walgreens app, and you can book multiple immunizations during the same visit. Walgreens offers flexible openings, including nights, weekends and walk-ins when available.
- It may be at no cost to you. COVID-19 vaccines are often covered by insurance or government assistance programs, such as the CDC's Bridge Access Program. The flu shot is covered by most insurance plans with a $0 copay, although provider networks may vary; those enrolled in Medicare Part B and many with Medicaid in certain states may also receive the flu and RSV shot at no cost. Walgreens remains focused on driving equitable and convenient access to life-saving vaccines.
Walgreens: Your partner in health
Walgreens is your one-stop resource for all your immunization, testing and treatment needs this holiday season. Stay prepared by stocking up on at-home tests and medicine cabinet essentials when you come in for your vaccination appointment or via 24-hour same-day delivery. If you begin experiencing sniffles or other respiratory symptoms over the holidays, call or visit a local Walgreens. Your pharmacist can discuss in-store or virtual care treatment options and advise you on the best next steps to get back on your feet and keep those around you safe.
To schedule your vaccination appointment today or learn more, visit Walgreens.com/ScheduleVaccine.
 Deloitte. 2023 Deloitte Holiday Travel Survey. https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/industry/retail-distribution/holiday-travel-survey.html
 Walgreens. 2019-2022 Walgreens COVID-19 Index.
 Walgreens. 2019-2022 Walgreens Flu Index.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seasonality of Respiratory Syncytial Virus - United States, 2017-2023. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/72/wr/mm7214a1.htm?s_cid=mm7214a1_w
 Walgreens. 2023 Walgreens COVID-19 Index. https://www.walgreens.com/healthcare-solutions/covid-19-index
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Increased Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Activity in Parts of the Southeastern United States: New Prevention Tools Available to Protect Patients. https://emergency.cdc.gov/han/2023/han00498.asp
 Walgreens. 2023 Walgreens Flu Index. https://news.walgreens.com/press-center/flu-index/