Fall ImmunizationsOctober 1, 2023
Fall Immunizations: Are You Up-to-Date?
Fall 2023, may be the season of the “tripledemic” where COVID-19, RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) and Influenza (flu) cases may occur at one time. If all three of these viruses peak at the same time this fall, we may see an increase in illness and hospitalizations, causing disruption in our healthcare systems that could rival that of previous pandemic years.
RSV and flu cause millions of healthcare visits every fall and winter. Flu causes an estimated 9 million to 41 million illnesses each year, while RSV causes more than 2 million illnesses in children under five alone. Among people 65 and older, RSV causes up to 10,000 deaths annually. The COVID-19 virus continues to cause illness and hospitalizations; recent September 2023 data shows an almost 10% increase in hospitalizations from the first week to the second week of the month.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Immunization
Many patients have already completed a COVID-19 vaccine primary series and may have received at least one booster dose. Recently, COVID-19 vaccines have been updated for the 2023-2024 season and are now available to patients interested in boosting their immunity to the COVID-19 virus. The updated vaccine targets a different strain of the virus than the previous COVID-19 vaccines targeted.
A 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for all individuals to increase their immunity against the most recent virus strains. You may receive a 2023-2024 dose if it has been at least 2 months since your last COVID-19 vaccine. If you are immunocompromised, you may qualify for an additional dose of vaccine.
Influenza causes cold symptoms like: cough, sore throat, runny nose, fever, achy muscles, chills, tiredness. Influenza can lead to serious disease that may require hospitalization and sometimes may cause death. Influenza illness may be most severe in young children, older adults and those with chronic illnesses
Individuals, aged 6 months and older are encouraged to receive an annual seasonal flu vaccine. This vaccination is the best way to help protect against the flu virus. Vaccination has been shown to reduce the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and even the risk of flu-related death in children.
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a common respiratory disease which usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms (coughing, runny nose, sneezing, wheezing, fever and decrease in appetite). The typical RSV season is October through April; peaking in December. Most infections resolve on their own, however some infections can become serious and require intervention.
RSV is spread by contact with respiratory droplets from infected persons (couging/sneezing) or dried respiratory secretions. RSV can be a serious problem for infants and older adults, especially those with chronic medical conditions.
RSV vaccines have recently been approved by the FDA (May 2023) and have shown to help prevent lower respiratory disease from RSV infection. These vaccines have been approved for individuals 60 years of age and older.
Those most at risk include:
- age 65 years or older
- chronic lung disease (COPD, Asthma)
- chronic heart disease (coronary artery disease, heart failure)
- Diabetes / chronic renal disease
- Cerebrovascular disease
- Chronic liver dease
- weakened immune system
- those living in congregate living centers/nursing home residents
RSV can worsen chronic conditions and lead to severe symptoms/infection.
Lewis pharmacists have access to state immunization registries which allows them to see what immunizations are recommended for you. Through an agreement with a local health care provider, Lewis Drug pharmacists are able to screen and immunize patients for many vaccinations without needing a prescription.
Remember, immunizations are a very effective way to protect not only yourself, but also your loved ones. Take a moment to speak with your Lewis Drug pharmacist today to see what immunizations are recommended for you and to help make sure you are up-to-date!