Health / Tips & tools

RSV, COVID-19, and Flu: What to Know About This Season's Vaccines

Grandmother, daughter, and granddaughter outside

Remember last winter's “tripledemic”? Hospitals across the country were filled with people who had respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), COVID-19, and the flu. 

This season, for the first time, there are vaccines for all three viruses, including a new RSV shot and an updated COVID-19 vaccine. And with your BCBSRI health plan, you’re covered for all three vaccines for $0.*

Here's what you need to know for a healthier fall and winter.

RSV: Talk with your doctor

Most of the time, RSV will cause a mild, cold-like illness, but it can cause severe illness, especially in infants and young children, older adults, and those with heart or lung conditions. 

Who should get vaccinated
The vaccine can help protect adults aged 60+ as well as pregnant women. If you are eligible for the RSV vaccine, ask your primary care provider (PCP) or obstetrician if it is right for you. In addition, if you have a child under 19 months, ask their pediatrician about a new immunization called nirsevimab that protects infants and young children from RSV. The CDC recommends:

  • 1 dose of nirsevimab for all infants younger than 8 months born during or entering their first RSV season.
  • 1 dose of nirsevimab for infants and children 8–19 months old who are at increased risk for severe RSV disease and entering their second RSV season.

Where you can get vaccinated
If you are 60+, you can get vaccinated at a participating pharmacy. Pregnant women can receive the vaccine in their obstetrician’s office or at a participating pharmacy if it is available. Infants/young children can get their shots at their pediatrician’s office. 

What to do if you get RSV 
Unlike flu and COVID-19, antiviral medicines are not usually used to treat RSV. Talk with your PCP if you are not feeling well. Seek help right away if you have any signs of an emergency (see below).

COVID-19: Stay protected with an updated vaccine

Viruses are constantly changing, including the virus that causes COVID-19. The updated shot boosts your immunity and better protects you from the variants circulating now. 

Who should get vaccinated
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends an updated COVID-19 vaccine for everyone six months of age and older.

Where you can get vaccinated
You can visit a participating pharmacy or find a location at

What to do if you get COVID-19
Call your PCP right away if you are at high risk for complications, including if you are age 50+, unvaccinated, or have a medical condition such as chronic lung disease, heart disease, or a weakened immune system. Treatments can help reduce your risk of getting very sick, but they must be started within days after you first develop symptoms. Other medications can help reduce symptoms and help you manage your illness.

Flu: Don’t delay your annual shot

Getting vaccinated early in the fall gives you more protection against the flu. However, as long as flu viruses are circulating, it’s still important to get vaccinated, even in January or later. According to the CDC, you can get your flu shot and the updated COVID-19 vaccine at the same time if you are due for both vaccines.

Who should get vaccinated
The CDC recommends a flu shot for everyone six months of age and older.

Where you can get vaccinated
You can get your shot at an in-network provider’s office, Rhode Island flu clinics, or a participating pharmacy.

What to do if you get the flu 
Call your PCP right away if you are at high risk for flu complications, including if you have a chronic condition such as diabetes or asthma or are age 65+. These drugs can mean the difference between having a mild case of the flu and having a more serious case.

Take the same steps to prevent all 3 

You can help prevent RSV, COVID-19, and flu by taking the steps we all know well: washing your hands, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, not touching your face, and not sharing food or drinks. Of course, we all get sick sometimes despite our best efforts. If you do, stay home and rest. If you can, try to also stay away from people you live with to avoid passing on the virus.

Know the signs of an emergency

The signs of an emergency for RSV, COVID-19, and flu are similar. Here are some signs that you or a loved one may need emergency care:

  • Trouble breathing or breathing faster than normal
  • Ribs pulling in with each breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • Seizures
  • Sudden confusion
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone
  • Not alert or interacting when awake

If you see any of these signs, seek emergency care immediately. Even without these signs, emergency care may still be needed. If you are concerned, talk to your PCP or call 911.