When fall rolls around, many doctors recommend getting a flu shot. That's because flu season typically ramps up in October, with peak season occurring between December and February. This year, a flu shot may not be the only vaccine that is recommended, however
In addition to an annual flu shot, it may be time to get another COVID-19 booster. An updated vaccine has been approved to provide protection against current strains of the virus that are circulating.
According to the Medical Director of Infectious Disease at Arroyo Grande Community Hospital, Dr. J. Trees Ritter, it’s a little too early to tell what the coming season will look like in terms of infection rates. “We typically look to the Southern Hemisphere to predict what our season will look like,” Dr. Ritter said. “There has not been anything unusual seen to date, so I would predict an average flu season. But we do know the current flu vaccine is a good match for what has been circulating, so I would encourage everyone eligible to get their vaccination sooner rather than later.”
Getting a COVID-19 booster may be especially important for older adults and those who are more at risk of complications from the virus.
Another vaccine that may be on your radar for the very first time is one that provides protection against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). This virus is usually associated with young children but adults may also get sick from RSV. Older adults are especially at risk of developing complications from the virus that can lead to hospitalization or even death
“A person could get both flu and COVID vaccines at the same time, assuming they are a candidate for each,” Dr. Ritter said. “They should then wait an additional two weeks before getting the RSV vaccination.”
Last year, all three of these viruses hit hard around the same time of the year—in the fall and winter. Some referred to the three viruses as a tripledemic. This year, health experts are concerned that the same thing may happen.
Who should get these vaccines?
Not sure if you should get one, two or three of these vaccines? Here are recommendations for each:
Flu: Annual flu vaccines are recommended for all people aged 6 months and older, unless there is a specific reason that a doctor suggests that you do not get vaccinated. Most people only need a single dose of the flu vaccine, but some children under age 9 may need a second dose. Getting the flu vaccine by October is ideal. If you miss that timeframe, it's not too late to get a flu shot any time after that, since flu season usually sticks around until May
COVID-19: Updated vaccines are targeting the XBB variants of the COVID-19 virus. These are strains of the virus that came from the Omicron variant and are the most common form of the virus currently in circulation. This vaccine is available to adults and children ages 6 months and older.
RSV: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently endorsed recommendations for adults aged 60 and older to receive a single dose of the RSV vaccine. This is the first time an RSV vaccine has ever been available. Talk to your doctor about whether getting an RSV vaccine is right for you. Dr. Ritter said the RSV vaccine is also recommended for women between 32 and 36 weeks of gestation so that the infant gets immunity from the mother to protect them in the “most vulnerable time of infancy.”
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Date Last Reviewed: August 17, 2023
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD