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Don’t Bring Respiratory Illnesses Home for the Holidays: Get Vaccinated

College students aren’t the only ones traveling home for the holidays in large numbers. According to a recent survey, almost half of Americans are planning some kind of holiday travel, including older adults and others who may have stayed at home due to health concerns for the past few years.

With more people gathering with loved ones and passing through high-contact spaces – like train stations and airports – it also means your exposure to respiratory illnesses will be greater in the coming weeks. According to a recent press release, this year, we’ve already experienced a major late summer spike in COVID-19 activity nationwide and national flu activity is also steadily increasing, with a 50% rise in cases during the past week.

Getting your flu shot and the updated COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to keep you and your loved ones safe this holiday season. However, many young people have not received these recommended vaccinations. In October, less than 10% of individuals who received their flu shot at Walgreens were Gen Z. The rates are even lower for COVID-19 vaccines.

“While students are excited to head home for the holidays, it’s important to remember that respiratory illnesses are in circulation. These viruses can be particularly dangerous for family members who are older or have pre-existing health conditions,” says Michael Pedro, PharmD, Walgreens Pharmacist. “As you pack up your things to go home, avoid bringing flu and COVID-19 with you. I encourage everyone to get their recommended vaccines as soon as possible before you travel or gather, to allow time for immunity to fully develop and increase your protection. I also recommend COVID-19 and flu testing, because knowing for sure can help keep your family healthy this holiday season. Pharmacists are highly trained healthcare providers and are here to answer any questions you may have about vaccines, testing or other steps you can take to reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses.”

4 reasons to get vaccinated this holiday season.

If you haven’t gotten the flu or COVID-19 vaccine, it’s not too late. Here are four reasons to put vaccination on your to-do list before you travel or gather with family and friends for the holidays.

1. You’re protecting your at-risk loved ones. Getting vaccinated reduces the chances that you’ll spread respiratory illnesses to people who are at high risk of developing severe complications as they return to traveling and seeing their loved ones this year.

2. You’re expanding your protection during peak respiratory illness season. While respiratory illness season is unpredictable, cases tend to peak during and after the holiday season, which is why the CDC recommends getting vaccinated around this time of year. No one wants to get sick during finals or right at the start of a new semester. Getting the flu and COVID-19 vaccines now will provide you with the best protection against potential surges when everyone heads back to school.

3. It’s easy when you come to Walgreens. With locations within 5 miles of approximately 78% of all Americans, including many near college campuses, Walgreens makes it simple for students to get all the vaccines they need ahead of the holidays. You can easily schedule an appointment online or using the Walgreens app, and you can book multiple immunizations during the same visit. Walgreens offers flexible openings, including nights, weekends and walk-ins when available.

4. It may be at no cost to you. COVID-19 vaccines are often covered by your insurance or government assistance programs, such as the CDC’s Bridge Access Program. The flu shot is covered by most insurance plans with a $0 copay, although provider networks may vary.

Walgreens: Your partner in health

Walgreens is your one-stop resource for all your vaccination, testing and treatment needs as you head home for the holidays. Stay prepared by stocking up on at-home tests and medicine cabinet essentials when you come in for your vaccination appointment or via 24-hour same-day delivery. If you begin experiencing sniffles or other respiratory symptoms over the holidays, call or visit a local Walgreens. Your pharmacist can discuss in-store or virtual care treatment options and advise you on the best next steps to get back on your feet and keep those around you safe.

To schedule your vaccination appointment today or learn more, visit

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