Free COVID-19 tests and updated vaccines are now available nationwide in anticipation of a winter surge in transmission.
The U.S. saw an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations through the summer, although not enough to cause concern for a return to lockdown measures.
Public health officials from the CDC, FDA and locally believe that between the access to rapid testing, updated vaccines and therapeutics, there is enough to effectively fight COVID-19 better than at the opening stages of the pandemic.
“I think it’s important for people who are high-risk to, older people, people who are immunocompromised, people living with people who are at higher risk, pregnant women, people caring for infants–we need to get ourselves boosted,” Ferrer said. “We really can’t afford to take the risk of getting infected. I know for some younger, healthy adults, they’re thinking ‘Well, this doesn’t really apply to me.’ I’d like to say we have not figured out who gets long COVID and who doesn’t and we have not figured out necessarily who for sure isn’t doing to experience severe illness.”
Updated Boosters For Latest Variants
The FDA approved updated vaccines from both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, effective for the currently dominant Omicron variants such as Eg.5 and XBB.1.5. Those boosters have become widely available, with pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens offering them for free. Medical providers such as Kaiser Permanente have also announced free access to the latest vaccine for its patients.
For those without medical insurance, the My Turn website is a Los Angeles County resource that shows the nearest locations that offer free COVID-19 vaccines.
As of Sept. 25, free rapid at-home COVID-19 tests can be ordered through covidtests.gov, with up to four years delivered per household.
The tests will be delivered through the United States Postal Service, as was the case for previously federally distributed tests.
The tests are self-taken nasal antigen tests that typically deliver results within 15 minutes.
At the moment, Paxlovid, Remdesivir and Molnupiravir are the leading treatments for COVID-19. The therapeutics are prescribed to patients who may be experiencing mild to moderate symptoms from COVID for a faster recovery. A person does not necessarily need to test positive to receive the treatments and can be put on the therapeutics if they have been exposed, regardless of the COVID test results.
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