BPHC Urges Vaccination During Upper Respiratory Virus Season

Special to the Patriot Bridge

The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) recommends all residents ages 6 months and older protect themselves and their loved ones by getting the updated COVID-19 and flu vaccines as we prepare for colder temperatures and increased transmission of upper respiratory illnesses.  

On September 12, the CDC recommended a singular dose of the updated COVID-19 vaccine for everyone ages 6 months and older to protect against the latest variants of the COVID-19 virus. The updated COVID-19 vaccine is formulated to target the Omicron subvariants that were the most common cause of infection from November 2021 through early 2023. The updated vaccine will also be effective against the variants that are currently circulating.  

Staying up to date on COVID-19 vaccination is an important strategy to reduce the risk of severe illness and hospitalization, especially as the holiday season approaches and more people gather indoors.   

BPHC and City of Boston vaccination sites at the Bruce C. Bolling Building and City Hall will begin providing the updated COVID-19 vaccines on

November 1, 2023. Flu vaccinations are also available at both sites.

• Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building, 2300 Washington St., Roxbury 

Open Thursdays – Saturdays from 12 pm – 6 pm  

• City Hall, Haymarket Room (2nd Floor) 1 City  Hall Square, Boston 

Open Mondays from 7 am – 1 pm and Wednesdays from 12 pm – 5 pm 

Walk-ins are welcome at both sites, but pre-registration is strongly encouraged to ensure BPHC and its clinical vendor, LCG, can efficiently manage vaccination appointments in the event of high demand. Visit https://home.color.com/vaccine/register/lcgboston to register. Due to supply limitations, BPHC cannot guarantee that both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines will be offered on a given day.  

Vaccines are free and available at both standing sites, regardless of insurance coverage, but residents will be asked if they have insurance coverage solely for record keeping and inventory purposes and insurance will not be billed.

Both COVID-19 and flu vaccines are available throughout the city and are often covered by insurance, including MassHealth. If you do not have health insurance, are unsure about your coverage, or if co-pays are a barrier, call the Mayor’s Health Line at 617-534-5050.  

The updated vaccines are also available at local pharmacies, community health centers, and through primary care providers. To find a COVID-19 or flu vaccine site near you, visit the CDC’s Vaccine Finder.    

“Staying vaccinated protects the health of our City. In our drive to support residents with affordable, accessible healthcare, Boston will be offering free COVID-19 vaccines to residents regardless of insurance status,” said Mayor of Boston Michelle Wu. “I encourage residents to take advantage of this resource and help keep our communities safe and healthy.” 

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body ache, headache, new loss or taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting. (This list does not include all possible symptoms). Older adults and people who have underlying chronic medical conditions are at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. 

“COVID-19 remains a significant cause of severe respiratory illness. Getting the updated vaccine is the best way to prevent serious illness and hospitalization associated with new variants,” said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission, Commissioner of Public Health for the City of Boston.

“I encourage all residents, especially those who are elderly, pregnant, have underlying chronic diseases or are immunocompromised, to get the updated vaccine to avoid potentially severe outcomes due to COVID-19.” 

In addition to staying up to date on vaccinations, BPHC recommends the following steps to stay safe from COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses:  

• Staying home when sick. 

• Consider wearing a mask when: 

  • If you must leave the house while sick 

  • If you are going to be in crowded indoor spaces  

  • And/or, if you are at high risk of severe illness 

• Having COVID-19 rapid testing kits available at home to test if you have symptoms of COVID-19. 

  •Free test kits are available at distribution hubs throughout Boston  and for purchase at local pharmacies.  

  • There are also walk-in and by-appointment testing sites throughout the City.      

• Seeking treatment from your trusted healthcare provider if you test positive for COVID-19 or flu and are at high risk for severe disease.  

• Washing your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  

• Regularly disinfecting and cleaning high touch surfaces.

BPHC also reminds residents to take precautions to reduce their risk of flu transmission. The most common symptoms of the flu are fever, chills, cough, sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, muscle or body aches, headache, fatigue, and in some cases, vomiting and diarrhea. Flu is highly infectious and can lead to severe illness, hospitalization, and death, especially among higher risk groups, including children younger than 5 years old, adults aged 65 and older, pregnant people, and people with chronic medical conditions.

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