Fall and winter is a wonderful time in Central Oregon, with plenty of fun stuff to do: Snow sports, sledding with the kids, hanging out by a fire, holiday gatherings and, of course, that much-needed February getaway to warmer climes.

Unfortunately, fall and winter is also respiratory illness season. Influenza, COVID-19 and RSV are all common in the region, and each of them can cause serious illness that will wreck those plans you’ve been looking forward to.

Here’s the best way to protect yourself and your plans: Get vaccinated.

“This season, safe and effective vaccines designed to prevent serious cases of flu, COVID and RSV are available,” said Dr. Cynthia Maree, St. Charles’ infectious disease expert. “Getting sick is no fun, especially when it takes you away from doing the things you love to do. So I want to urge everyone 6 months old and older to get vaccinated against flu and COVID-19, and to talk to their primary care physician about whether they should get the RSV vaccine.”

Vaccines do not always prevent illness, but they can curtail how sick you get if you are infected. It is especially important for people over the age of 65 and people with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity or a weakened immune system to protect themselves by getting vaccinated, Maree said. 

“Vaccines remain our best protection against serious respiratory illness,” she said. “Other things you can do to stay healthy include washing your hands, physically distancing, wearing a mask in crowds and staying home if you do get sick.”

  • This season’s flu vaccine targets four strains of seasonal influenza and is recommended for everyone 6 months old and older. October is the ideal time to get a flu shot, because protection wanes throughout the season.
  • An updated COVID-19 vaccine is available now and is recommended for everyone 6 months old and older. For protection against severe disease, get it now unless you have received a booster within the past two months OR you were infected within the past three to four months.
  • There are two RSV vaccines (GSK and Pfizer) that are very similar and recommended for people 60 years old and older, as well as pregnant people. If you’re eligible, talk to your provider about getting the RSV vaccine. Protection is durable throughout the season.

For more information, including where to get vaccines, visit

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