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Now is the time to get vaccinated for flu, COVID and RSV

Cases of influenza and other respiratory infections are on the rise in Arizona. And health officials say now is the time to get up-to-date on immunizations.

The  Arizona Department of Health Services has tracked about three times more flu cases so far this fall than what’s typical for this time of year. Dr. Eugene Livar, the department's assistant director for public health preparedness, said it's hard to predict how the rest of the season will look but said it's a good idea to protect yourself through vaccination. 

“I think it’s really important to think about going out and getting that COVID vaccine or that flu vaccine," Livar said. "The hope there is that it will decrease the severity of illness if you do happen to get the infections.”

The  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend flu shots for everyone 6 months and older. The CDC recommends getting a flu shot by the end of October for the best protection, but says the shots offer protection as long as the virus is circulating. 

Public health officials also suggest getting an  updated COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as your flu shot. The updated COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months and older. Recent hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 have been relatively low, but Arizona is still seeing about 3,000 cases per week.

There is also a  new vaccine for RSV available this year for adults over 60 and pregnant women. Last winter, RSV spiked to record levels in Arizona.

Katherine Davis-Young is a senior field correspondent reporting on a variety of issues, including public health and climate change.