Connecticut’s best document on staying healthy during the new ‘COVID and flu’ season

Connecticut’s best document on staying healthy during the new ‘COVID and flu’ season

For the first time in two years, the holiday season will be absent from most pandemic-era public health restrictions. What No being absent for the third year in a row is the threat of COVID-19 and, for the umpteenth year in a row, the threat of the flu.

Connecticut Public Health Commissioner Dr. Manisha Juthani joined Connecticut Public’s All Things Considered to share her observations on where cold and flu season is headed this year, and what families can do to stay healthy. .

John Henry Smith: We used to say “cold and flu season” – what do you have in mind about “COVID-19 and flu season”?

Dr. Manisha Juthani: What I have in mind is that we have many respiratory viruses that are already beginning to circulate. And we know that we have two vaccines that can really make a dent in the trajectory, at least of those two viruses, both COVID and the flu. The holidays approach. If people can get it on their radar to try and get these shots preferably before Halloween this week if not the first week or two of November so that you have a couple more weeks to build up your immunity at least the two vaccine-preventable or vaccine-reducible infections that we have, leading up to Thanksgiving, and then all the other social gatherings that I know so many people have missed in the last many, many years.

John Henry Smith: So my understanding is that the booster is available to about 2 million people in the nutmeg state age five and up for the Pfizer shot. If I understand correctly and I am older than six years for Moderna offerings, what do the vaccination numbers look like?

Dr. Manisha Juthani: We have a little over 346,000, probably closer to 350,000 now, people who have been vaccinated with the bivalent booster. This really corresponds with the age groups. Our older age groups are getting the message that these vaccine-preventable diseases may have their greatest impact. But as we know, and as the whole world understands through this pandemic, it’s a collective process for us to fight these viruses. So we need the amount of virus circulating to go down. If we have school children, college kids, people who have a lot of virus going around, eventually it gets to our older age groups as well.

John Henry Smith: Doctor, I feel like the next question I’m going to ask you puts you in the role of a Catholic priest in the confessional, but here goes. For the last two weekends, I have been in closed establishments with many people eating and talking loudly, without a mask in sight, I would never have done that in the last two years. I suspect that many people will do the same in these last weeks of the year. How confident should those of us who are fully vaccinated and beefed up be in such environments?

Dr. Manisha Juthani: In terms of how comfortable people should be after having those two injections, I think we can feel like we’ve done everything we can to try and protect ourselves. Again, if you’re in an area where there’s a lot of COVID circulating or if there are sick people around you, I would encourage you to consider a mask and especially depending on your circumstance, your own personal circumstance, there are a lot of people who choose to do that in all circumstances. So that’s where a bit of personal choice comes in. But I think you’re in the best possible situation. If you have respiratory symptoms and need to go outside, I ask that you wear a mask to be respectful of those around you to try to prevent transmission of anything you may have.

John Henry Smith: I understand there is a nationwide increase in something I have never heard of before called Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). What do people need to know about that?

Dr. Manisha Juthani: So this is a virus that, very typically, you see in children. And interestingly, we’re seeing a lot of young children getting RSV. I think for a lot of these other viruses, masking has prevented the transmission of some of them in recent years. However, we are seeing with less wearing of masks, now, that these viruses that come back every year are coming back in full force.

One of the things about RSV is that people have gotten out of the habit of good hand hygiene and surface cleaning because for COVID, we identified that services were less of an issue. But unfortunately for RSV, [it spreads on] surfaces and fomites, particularly among children’s toys and other things that are touched by multiple children. And then touch their faces and noses and put your fingers in their mouths. These are ways that children can actually spread RSV to each other. This is usually a type of infection that kids recover from, we just can’t handle too many kids at once because we have a healthcare workforce that has been depleted over the last few years. We have a labor shortage. We have a shortage of nurses. So we need everyone to really do their best to mitigate all respiratory viruses this winter season.

John Henry Smith: And finally, doctor, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to add COVID-19 vaccines to CDC’s childhood and adult immunization schedules for 2023. Now, does that necessarily mean that COVID vaccines will definitely be required for school children here in Connecticut?

Dr. Manisha Juthani: Absolutely No a mandatory requirement at this time. It is an ACIP recommendation. So I think in Connecticut we are not there yet. I think it’s still very important and I strongly encourage everyone to get a COVID booster for their children over the age of five, but we’re nowhere near a mandatory requirement right now.

John Henry Smith: Commissioner of the Department of Public Health Dr. Manisha Juthani. Thank you very much for her time.

Dr. Manisha Juthani: It’s always a pleasure to be on the show.

Leave a Comment