ROANOKE, Va (WFXR) — As we head into cold and flu season doctors want you to know how to protect yourself and your family. Both flu and covid vaccines are available at your local pharmacy or health center.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) says with any seasonal vaccination, your body will take about two weeks to build up a defense against the illness, so we need to be preparing now.

James Black is a pharmacist at The Bradley Free clinic in Roanoke– he says the clinic has already seen a significant influx of people seeking flu and covid vaccines. He adds that to save yourself an extra trip– it is safe for people to get both vaccinations at the same time.

“You may feel a little bit tired, you may need to take some ibuprofen and Tylenol, but it’s not a problem taking them both together,” said Black.

Director of the Division of Immunization at VDH, Christy Gray, says although vaccines cannot 100% prevent you from getting sick– they can reduce the severity of symptoms is you do.

“The data does show that people who are hospitalized for these viruses are for the most part, unvaccinated, even if you don’t have compromising conditions,” said Gray.

Gray says now that Covid-19 vaccines are commercially available, VDH doesn’t need to step in to help with the roll out like they did when the vaccine was first made available.

She says those who are immunocompromised, young children and the elderly are at the highest risk for complications from the flu, covid or RSV.

“Just like we want to make sure we’re wearing our seatbelts and washing our hands and staying home when we’re sick, these are all different things, and just another tool that we can use to keep ourselves safe and to keep each other safe,” said Gray.

If you don’t have insurance or cannot afford a vaccination– Black says the Bradley Free Clinic offers vaccines free of charge, no insurance needed.

VDH also says some pharmacies and clinics participate in something called the “Bridge access program” which allows them to offer free vaccines to those without insurance.