LUBBOCK, Texas — Clinics around Lubbock announced the release of updated COVID-19 and flu vaccines on Tuesday amid the anticipation of an early flu season and rising COVID-19 infection numbers.

The City of Lubbock announced that adults who do not have health insurance, or those with health plans that don’t cover the COVID-19 vaccine can get a free one from Lubbock Public Health and from the CVS, Walgreens and Walmart pharmacies.

Those who do have health insurance that covers COVID-19 and flu vaccines can find one from Lubbock pharmacies or physicians, like United Pharmacies. 

The City of Lubbock said vaccines are not mandatory but recommended. However, Crockett Tidwell who is the Clinical Services Manager for United Pharmacies, said now is the time to get the vaccines if one chooses to do so.

“Really right now is the time to protect yourself throughout the season before the virus really gets going as the weather gets cooler,” Tidwell said.

COVID-19 infection numbers aren’t near as high as they were just a few years ago but according to the City of Lubbock, there are currently around 200 COVID-19 cases a week in the city. This is a rise in numbers compared to the average of 50 cases a week over the summer.

For those who choose to get vaccinated, Tidwell said they can either walk into the United pharmacy or make an appointment. For those who have any questions or fears about getting a vaccine, he encourages a conversation with a healthcare provider.

“Talk to those trusted people that take care of you and get their advice,” Tidwell said.

Dr. Todd Bell, who is an Associate Professor at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine, said some people are more at risk than others when it comes to COVID-19.

According to Bell, this includes people over the age of 60 or those with chronic medical conditions.

In terms of this year’s most prevalent flu strain, he believes everyone might have a lower immunity because this strain hasn’t been around in a while.

“There may not be as much immunity in the community at large. So, we would encourage folks to get their flu shots as soon as they’re available,” Bell said.

Besides vaccines, Bell said there are some basics you can practice to prevent the spread of sickness. This can include staying home from work if you’re sick, covering coughs and sneezes and hand washing.

“If we can do those three things, then that’s going to be able to help protect us and our neighbors,” Bell said.