Health / Tips & tools

RSV, COVID-19, and Flu: What to Know About This Season's Vaccines

Older woman with a band-aid on her arm

Remember last winter's “tripledemic”? Hospitals across the country were filled with cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), COVID-19, and the flu. Many people who were hospitalized were older adults, who are at greater risk for complications from these viruses. 

This season, for the first time, there are vaccines for all three viruses, including a new RSV shot and an updated COVID-19 vaccine. And with your BCBSRI Medicare Advantage plan, you’re covered for all three vaccines for $0. 

Here's what you need to know for a healthier fall and winter.

RSV: Talk with your doctor

Most of the time, RSV will cause a mild, cold-like illness, but it can cause severe illness, especially if you have a heart or lung condition.|
Who should get vaccinated
The vaccine can help protect adults aged 60 years and older from RSV. Ask your primary care provider (PCP) if this vaccination is right for you. If it is, ask your PCP whether you should get it at the same time as your flu and COVID-19 vaccines.

Where you can get vaccinated
You can get your shot at pharmacies participating with BCBSRI Medicare Advantage. Find a pharmacy

What to do if you get RSV 
Unlike flu and COVID-19, antiviral medicines are not usually used to treat RSV. Talk with your PCP if you are not feeling well. Seek help right away if you have any signs of an emergency (see below).

COVID-19: Stay protected with an updated vaccine

Viruses are constantly changing, including the virus that causes COVID-19. The updated shot boosts your immunity and better protects you from the variants circulating now. 

Who should get vaccinated
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends an updated COVID-19 vaccine for everyone six months of age and older.

Where you can get vaccinated
You can visit a participating pharmacy or find a location at

What to do if you get COVID-19
Call your PCP right away. Treatments can help reduce your risk of getting very sick, but they must be started within days after you first develop symptoms. Other medications can help reduce symptoms and help you manage your illness. 

If you need at-home tests for COVID-19, free tests are now available again from the government at Every U.S. household can receive four more free COVID-19 rapid tests delivered directly to their home. And if you have a BCBSRI Medicare Advantage plan that includes a quarterly OTC allowance, you can buy COVID-19 home tests in store through the national retailers in your OTC network or through NationsBenefit.

Flu: Don’t delay your annual shot

Getting vaccinated early in the fall gives you more protection against the flu. However, as long as flu viruses are circulating, it’s still important to get vaccinated, even in January or later. According to the CDC, you can get your flu shot and the updated COVID-19 vaccine at the same time if you are due for both vaccines.

Who should get vaccinated
The CDC recommends a flu shot for everyone six months of age and older.

Where you can get vaccinated
You can get your shot at an in-network provider’s office, Rhode Island flu clinics, participating pharmacies, or any out-of-network pharmacy.1 

What to do if you get the flu 
Call your PCP right away. Antiviral drugs can be used for people at high risk for flu complications, including adults older than 65 and people with chronic conditions such as diabetes or asthma. These drugs can mean the difference between having a mild case of the flu and having a more serious case. 

Take the same steps to prevent all 3 

You can help prevent RSV, COVID-19, and flu by taking the steps we all know well: washing your hands, using alcohol-based hand sanitizer, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, not touching your face, and not sharing food or drinks. Of course, we all get sick sometimes despite our best efforts. If you do, stay home and rest. If you can, try to also stay away from people you live with to avoid passing on the virus.

Know the signs of an emergency

The signs of an emergency for RSV, COVID-19, and flu are similar. Here are some signs that you or a loved one may need emergency care:

  • Trouble breathing or breathing faster than normal
  • Ribs pulling in with each breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • Seizures
  • Sudden confusion
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone
  • Not alert or interacting when awake

If you see any of these signs, seek emergency care immediately. Even without these signs, emergency care may still be needed. If you are concerned, talk to your PCP or call 911.