As colder temperatures approach and the risk of respiratory illnesses increases, doctors are strongly encouraging everyone to consider getting vaccinated against flu, COVID, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The flu vaccine is recommended for individuals aged 6 months or older, as the flu virus evolves every year and requires a yearly vaccine. This season, experts anticipate a good match between the flu vaccine and the circulating flu strains.
It is recommended to get the flu shot in early October, although late September is also acceptable. For individuals aged 65 or older, requesting a higher dose of the flu vaccine is advised to provide additional protection. Children aged 8 or younger who have not yet received any flu vaccine will need to receive two doses.
While the flu is a concern, the ongoing threat of COVID cannot be ignored. Vaccines play a crucial role in protecting against severe illness caused by the virus. Pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax have developed updated COVID vaccines to target the omicron subvariant XBB.1.5. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will determine whether to recommend these boosters on September 12. The intended recipients of the updated booster are high-risk groups, including individuals aged 75 or older, pregnant women, and those with compromised immune systems.
However, it is important to note that the general public may not need to receive the latest COVID booster. Vaccination efforts are aimed at prioritizing those most at risk.
Aside from flu and COVID, another respiratory illness of concern is RSV. RSV predominantly affects young children and seniors, posing significant risks. Healthcare systems were severely strained in 2022 when cases of RSV, COVID, and flu surged simultaneously. In response to this threat, a vaccine for RSV has been approved for individuals aged 60 or older, infants, toddlers, and pregnant individuals. The Abrysvo vaccine can be administered between 32 and 36 weeks of pregnancy, significantly reducing the risk of severe complications for newborns.
Researchers are still determining the duration of protection provided by the RSV vaccine, but early evidence suggests that it may extend beyond a single RSV season. This is promising news in the ongoing effort to combat respiratory illnesses.
As the fall season approaches, it is crucial to be proactive in protecting ourselves and our loved ones. Getting vaccinated against flu, COVID, and RSV can significantly reduce the risk of severe illness and help alleviate the strain on healthcare systems. Stay informed and consult with healthcare professionals to make the best decisions regarding vaccination.
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