ORLANDO, Fla.—With rates of the flu, RSV, and Covid expected to increase in the coming months, doctors are bracing for a so-called “tridemic” this winter. Besides the annual flu shot, the CDC recommends receiving an updated Covid booster shot to protect against illness this holiday season. 

What You Need To Know

  • The bivalent booster protects against the original Covid-19 strain and Omicron

  • In Florida, under 7 percent have received the shot

  • The CDC recommends the booster for anyone over the age of 5

Stewart Lieberman, who travels frequently, received a dose of the updated Covid-19 booster this fall. This winter, he and his wife will go on multiple cruises. To board the ships, they will be required to present proof that they are fully vaccinated against Covid, including the bivalent booster, which protects against the original Covid strain and the Omicron variant. 

“I’ll be honest, I don’t know if I would have gotten this fifth shot if I wasn’t going on these cruises,” said Lieberman. 

That he is getting the vaccine at all puts Lieberman in a minority of Floridians who have elected to receive the bivalent booster, which is recommended by the CDC for anyone over the age of 5. Across the country, only about 10 percent of the U.S. population has received the bivalent vaccine. In Florida, under 7% have received the shot. 

“We’re 77 years old, so we’ve gotta watch ourselves,” he said.

That’s why he and his wife continue to take precautions, like using masks and dining outdoors. Data from the Florida Department of Health show that while over 94% of adults over the age of 65 have received a booster, vaccine uptake is lower for the younger age groups, with only a quarter of children ages 5-11 fully vaccinated. 

Dr. Amy Lynn Safaty, a CVS Pharmacy manager, says she understands hesitancy to receive the vaccine, but emphasized its importance, especially with the holiday season meaning more travel and, typically, more illness. 

“It’s a great idea to not only protect yourselves but to protect those around you and make sure your families can be safe and have safe gatherings together,” said Safaty. 

For those interested in obtaining an updated shot, vaccines.gov has a locator for free bivalent boosters with no insurance required.