LBI Health Dept. Offering Special Vaccination Clinics on Tuesdays in January

In the face of the “tripledemic” and a new Omicron variant, XBB.1.5, which is rapidly becoming the most common variant found in the United States, the Long Beach Island Health Department has announced a “January Community Influenza and COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign.”

“We are now in the middle of a very severe active respiratory illness season, so we want to highlight the continued importance of receiving the latest COVID-19 Bivalent Booster and Seasonal Influenza vaccination,” read the LBIHD’s announcement. “It is not too late to receive either vaccine. Immunizations remain the cornerstone to preventing and protecting individuals from severe illness.”

A strong anti-vaccine movement has put a dent into the number of people receiving their COVID-19 and seasonal influenza shots. It is estimated that only 15% of eligible Americans have received a bivalent booster at this time while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that just 45.6% had received a flu vaccination as of Dec. 16.

The LBIHD is encouraging people to get vaccinated against both COVID-19 and seasonal influenza for a number of reasons:

“Vaccination is especially important for pregnant women and people with chronic diseases.

“The flu vaccine protects against several different flu viruses (strains). Flu vaccines are updated every year to better match the viruses circulating in the public.

“Getting the flu or COVID-19 vaccine cannot give you the virus!”

The LBIHD noted all vaccinations come with no out-of-pocket expense and reminds people to bring I.D. and a completed flu vaccine form with them. The form can be downloaded at

Special vaccination clinics will be held throughout the month. The first will be from 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, Jan. 3 at Surf City Borough Hall. On Tuesday, Jan. 10 the action will shift to Ship Bottom Borough Hall from 10 a.m. to noon.

There will be two clinics on Tuesday, Jan. 17 from 10 a.m. to noon. One will be at Harvey Cedars Borough Hall while the other will take place at Barnegat Light Borough Hall.

Beach Haven Borough Hall will host a clinic on Jan. 24, again from 10 a.m. to noon. The final special clinic of the month will take place from 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, Jan. 31 in the Long Beach Township Court Room.

Both regular and high dose (for individuals 65 years of age and older) flu vaccines will be offered at all sites. The flu vaccines are available for both adults and children 5 years of age and older; minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. The COVID-19 bivalent vaccine can be administered to individuals 12 years of age and older.

For further information, call the LBIHD at 609-492-1212.

January is likely to be a critical month in the battle against COVID-19 and seasonal influenza. COVID-19 numbers in the United States soared in the weeks following the Christmas and New Year’s holidays in both 2021 and 2022. Meanwhile, the flu has hit more Americans this season than it had for several years.

The recipe for such increases is simple. Take cold weather forcing people indoors, add family get-togethers and millions of travelers cramming into planes, trains and buses (now with no masking requirement), and toss in a pinch of a new variant such as the original Omicron or this winter’s XBB.1.5 and it is easy to forecast an uptick in COVID-19 activity this January.

But most public health officials and doctors have also predicted any COVID spike this January likely won’t be as deadly as in 2021 and 2022, thanks to vaccinations and medicines such as Paxlovid and Remdesivir. On the other hand, COVID-19 isn’t the only threat this winter. There are the flu, which can be deadly, and RSV, a viral infection of the respiratory tract caused by the respiratory syncytial virus, which can be extremely dangerous for babies and toddlers and for senior citizens.

A Triple Crown is a great thing in horse racing and baseball. Not so in the world of respiratory infections.  —R.M.