With falling leaves and frosty mornings, we start closing our windows and thinking about the season of costumes, candy, and pumpkins. Unfortunately, it is also the start of the cold and flu season. As we spend more time indoors near others, we tend to increase the spread of airborne respiratory infections. However, there are a few things we can do to protect ourselves from these nuisances and sometimes life-threatening illnesses. Washing hands, wearing masks, and keeping some social distancing helps. However, we also have some immunizations that are worthwhile considering for extra protection for you and your family.
We have a brand new COVID shot available in our clinics. This new vaccine is monovalent and specifically designed to target our most recent strain of COVID-19. It is expected to be more successful at preventing illness than the older bivalent vaccines. We are all tired of COVID-19, but unfortunately, it is still very present in our community and continues to cause illness. COVID-19 not only causes short-term illness, but we are learning also increases the risk of another chronic diseases such as heart disease. Vaccines are a powerful tool to prevent both the infection and later complications of the infection. The COVID virus continues to mutate and at some point, this vaccine will likely need to be replaced, much like we do with annual flu shots.
Flu shots are available in our clinics now. We often use the word “Flu” to include minor respiratory illnesses. But true Influenza makes people very sick. It is responsible for causing 30-70,000 deaths in the United States per year. In the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have forgotten about it, but vaccines can be very effective in preventing severe illness. Because the influenza virus mutates, we need a new shot every year to protect us from the latest strains of the virus.
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
There is a new vaccine recommendation for small children and people over 60. This is a new vaccine, and we do not yet have it available in our clinic, although it is available at some local pharmacies. RSV used to be considered a concern for small children, but not a significant problem for adults. In the last few years, we have seen a growing number of adults, especially vulnerable adults, who have been hospitalized and even died from this infection. As a result, the CDC now recommends this shot for small children, people with respiratory disease, and all people over 60.
"Influenza is responsible for causing 30-70,000 deaths in the United States annually."
Sunshine Community Health Center