Pharmacy & Healthcare

Too late to vaccinate? Your FAQs about flu and COVID-19 shots

Anita Patel, PharmD, vice president of pharmacy services development at Walgreens, answers important questions around vaccination and what you need to know to continue to keep you and your families safe.
Walgreens Stories
If you haven’t been vaccinated for COVID-19 or the flu, or received your updated bivalent COVID-19 booster, there is still time to do so. While more than 80% of the U.S. population has received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, less than 20% on average have received their updated booster leaving individuals and communities at increased risk for infection, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows. 

Walgreens Flu Index and COVID Index are showing continued activity for both viruses across the U.S.; in fact, our latest data puts the country’s current COVID-19 positivity rate at 34.6%,?which nearly matches the positivity rate in January 2022. In addition, there’s a new offshoot of the COVID-19 Omicron variant in play: XBB.1.5. This new highly transmissible subvariant is quickly spreading in the United States. While the severity of symptoms reported are like previous variants, the concern is around its ability to evade natural immunity or previous protection provided by vaccines and re-infect those who already had COVID. 

Walgreens vice president of pharmacy services development, Anita Patel, PharmD, answers key questions to help address hesitation and clear up confusion around when to get vaccinated.
When should people be vaccinated for flu and COVID-19?

For flu, the ideal time to get vaccinated is before flu spreads in your community, which is why a lot of healthcare providers and pharmacies recommend getting the flu vaccine as early as October. However, it’s not too late to get vaccinated as flu continues to circulate across the country.  

For COVID-19, the updated bivalent booster is now available for anyone over the age of 6 months old, and children ages 3 and up can receive a booster shot at their local Walgreens.   

The timeline for getting your COVID-19 vaccine depends on several factors, such as when you completed your primary series and if you have recently been infected with COVID-19 and experienced symptoms or not.   

I recommend reaching out to your local pharmacists or healthcare provider to discuss when is the ideal time for you to receive your winter vaccinations. Walgreens pharmacy team members are specially trained to answer your health-related questions and to administer flu and COVID-19 shots during the same appointment to further help protect communities from vaccine-preventable illnesses.

Why do I need a booster if I’ve already been vaccinated with the primary series? 
The updated COVID-19 bivalent booster was developed to protect against the latest variants more effectively, meaning milder symptoms if they do get infected, and they’re less likely to pass the virus on. 

We’re still in the middle of a season where we see a lot of respiratory diseases circulating, and that is going to continue into spring.  

It’s more important than ever to stay up to date on recommended vaccinations like COVID-19 and flu so you can continue to maintain protection against serious illness or hospitalizations, for you and your loved ones.  
Flu is already rampant in my community. What’s the benefit of still getting vaccinated this winter?  

Flu season lasts through the entire winter, and even early spring in some areas. To keep healthy throughout the entire season, vaccination is an important way to protect your body against the flu. 

Remember, it takes about two weeks after getting the vaccine for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu. For the best protection, don’t wait.  
How can we know the COVID-19 vaccines are working? 

Immunizations prevent millions of deaths each year worldwide. COVID-19 vaccines are effective and have been shown to decrease the impact the virus has on your body, which is especially important for those that are at highest risk for complications such as the elderly or immunocompromised. New data shows that in the past two years, COVID-19 vaccines have prevented 3 million deaths and more than 18 million hospitalizations in the U.S. alone. 

Getting vaccinated and preventing infection allows you to continue your daily activities such as attending work, school, volunteering and gathering with friends and family without the risk of getting severely ill.  
Patel shares a round-up of all the ways Walgreens can help you keep your family healthy in the face of this COVID-19 and flu season:  
  • Convenient COVID-19 and flu vaccinations are available for ages 3 and up. Neighborhood locations and appointments are designed to fit family schedules, including evenings and weekends. To schedule your vaccination appointment, visit, use the Walgreens app or call 1-800-WALGREENS, available in English and Spanish. 
  • You can schedule a rapid flu test with a COVID-19 test at or via the Walgreens app. More than half of all Walgreens stores have rapid flu testing with COVID-19 testing that can be located on the mapping tool during the scheduling process. Once a location is selected, patients will need to register for both tests and complete a brief questionnaire before selecting their desired appointment day and time. 
  • You can order no-cost at-home COVID-19 tests at for pickup at the pharmacy or bring insurance information to a local pharmacist for assistance. Select insurance companies and health plans may cover the cost of up to eight at-home COVID tests per individual per month. 
  • Same day delivery is available for last-minute needs like groceries, over-the-counter medications, personal care items, household essentials, along with same-day prescription delivery after filling an eligible prescription, including free delivery of Paxlovid and Molnupiravir (COVID-19 oral antiviral therapies) directly to the doorsteps of those who need it. 

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