I'm back at EverythingHealth with information you can trust after an exciting trip to Morocco. (Look how happy my Sahara Desert camel is). It's interesting that Covid is not really on their radar and no-one wears masks or talks about it, despite the Covid shut down in 2022 that devastated their tourist economy. But here in the US, we now have a new vaccine and fall flu shot so I'm giving you an update to stay healthy.
INFLUENZA- Currently (beginning of October, 2023) influenza infections haven't really started. Usually by this time we are seeing influenza cases hit the hospitals and it's most interesting that one specific strain of flu (Yamagata influenza B) has gone extinct due to Covid-19 vaccines. We never thought we could eliminate a flu strain! The flu shot is available now and I am recommending that patients get it now if convenient or later in October- November to be ready for flu incidence.
COVID-19- Covid-19 infections have tapered off due to population-level immunity. It seems everyone either had it, or has had vaccination, both of which are protective for a time. Two specific variants (BA.2.86 and FLIP mutations) are expected for the winter surge. The new vaccine provides protection for these Omicron variants. Since reporting isn't mandatory, it will be difficult to tract this virus, except through groundwater surveillance and hospital admission data.
If you have had documented Covid, you should wait 4-6 months to get the new vaccine. If you were vaccinated before or have never been vaccinated, you should get the vaccine from the pharmacy by Halloween. The vaccine is your best way to avoid long term Covid and to prevent hospitalization and severe illness.
RSV- RSV is heating up in the South but mainly affecting infants and children. The vaccine has an 82-86% efficacy against severe disease. People over the age of 60 and pregnant women (32-36 weeks to protect the baby) can get the vaccine at any time because the protection lasts.
We are in a bit of a lull now for these winter infections. I'm still avoiding hand shaking just because the common cold virus practically disappeared during the Covid shut down. Avoiding close contact really worked. The elbow bump works for me. When the incidence of flu and covid start up again, I'll be wearing a mask in crowded spaces. For now, fall is here and the best protection for having a healthy winter is getting the vaccines.