SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - With the arrival of the winter season on the horizon, public health experts are sounding the alarm about the potential risks for the unvaccinated population.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, was in South Florida on Monday leading a proactive effort to bolster vaccination rates and safeguard the community.

“At any age, you need to be thinking about protecting yourself for the winter,” said Cohen.

Cohen visited a CVS Pharmacy in Southwest Miami-Dade where COVID-19 and flu vaccinations were available, emphasizing the importance of getting vaccinated as winter approaches.

The urgency is underlined by recent federal data revealing that Florida has reported approximately 1,300 COVID-19 deaths in the past three months.

So far, more than 8 million Americans have received the vaccine.

According to Cohen, the elderly and those with higher risks should consider getting the vaccine.

“This virus has changed and the updated COVID vaccine allows you to be most protected to this new changed virus and your protection from getting it in the past or from having a previous vaccination does decrease over time,” said Cohen.

The good news is that the new COVID-19 vaccine is covered by insurance, and a federal program ensures it’s available at no cost for those without insurance.

As the virus evolves, vaccination remains a vital tool in mitigating its impact and keeping the community safe.

“Yes, it’s about staying out of the hospital and certainly preventing death, but it’s also about preventing long COVID,” said Cohen. “No one wants extended symptoms, even mild ones, from this virus.”

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