The Yakima Health District will have a community vaccination clinic as the holidays approach.

Though flu activity and COVID-19 cases have both remained low through the first half of fall, local and state health officials urge residents to get vaccinated in time for the holiday season.

People can get flu and COVID vaccines from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14, at Franklin Middle School, 410 S. 19th Ave. in Yakima.

More specifically, the health district urges community members ages 5 and up to get the COVID-19 bivalent booster. The bivalent booster carries the genetic information necessary to fight off the most prevalent strains of COVID like omicron BA.5, which currently makes up 73% of all COVID-19 cases in the state, according to a report from the Washington State Department of Health.

Out of the 153,312 people in Yakima County eligible to get the bivalent booster, only 10%, or 15,381, have done so.

The health district recommends all eligible residents get their bivalent booster at least 2 months after receiving their primary series or a booster.

“Now is the perfect time to get your COVID-19 bivalent booster,” Dr. Neil Barg, the district’s health officer, said in the release. “We encourage all people to remain up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccinations and also get the flu vaccine. Having received both vaccines will reduce the risk of becoming infected and seriously ill from either virus and make holiday gatherings safer.”

For the week ending Nov. 4, the health district reported 60 new COVID cases along with three COVID-related deaths, the first deaths since early October.

The infection rate per 100,000 people has dropped to 48, the lowest it’s been since early April. Two people were hospitalized with COVID.

During a State Board of Health meeting, Secretary of Health Dr. Umair A. Shah, said though flu activity remains low, two flu-related deaths have been reported in the state. Cases of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, have also been reported in Yakima County and across the state.

RSV has symptoms similar to the flu and COVID-19 and can be particularly dangerous for children and the elderly population.

The YHD recommends visiting www.YakimaVaccines.org or www.YakimaVacunas.org for vaccine locations and availability.

Washington state offers free rapid COVID tests at its sayyescovidhomestest.org website.

People who test positive for COVID-19 are advised to stay home and away from other people while they are contagious. People who used an at-home test can report positive results to Washington’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-525-0127.

If your household needs additional resources, call Care Connect Washington at 1-800-525-0127. Care Connect Washington can provide food and other necessities to people.

Santiago Ochoa’s reporting for the Yakima Herald-Republic is possible with support from Report for America and community members through the Yakima Valley Community Fund. For information on republishing, email news@yakimaherald.com.

RFA/Health Care Access Reporter

Santiago Ochoa is a bilingual journalist covering health care access at the Yakima Herald-Republic in Yakima, Washington. Before joining the Herald, Ochoa reported for Flint Beat in Flint, Michigan, covering the city’s Latino population—health care, education, community building and more, and winning top honors in the Michigan Press Association’s feature category. He served as photographer and later editor for his college newspaper, The Michigan Times. When he’s not working, Ochoa enjoys cross-country trips on his motorcycle, going to the movies, reading and skiing.