Frequently asked questions about flu or COVID vaccines

Frequently asked questions about flu or COVID vaccines

It’s the same situation every year: as the weather gets colder, people gather indoors. Viruses and illnesses like the flu, COVID-19, RSV, and others spread more quickly and easily in these settings.

Wearing a mask in public places for the next several months can help reduce the spread of these viruses and is strongly recommended by healthcare providers. Another easy way to keep your vacation healthy is to get your COVID-19 booster and flu shots.

For answers to common questions about the flu, COVID-19, and the best ways to stay healthy, we turn to Rochester Regional Health’s infectious disease specialist Emil Lesho, DO.

When is the best time to get the updated COVID-19 booster shot?

Anyone looking to get the updated COVID-19 booster dose you must do so anytime in early November. Since it has elements of the latest strains of the virus, it is more effective than previous COVID boosters.

People older than 5 years can get a booster dose at least two months after the second dose of the vaccine.

“Many experts predict that there will be another spike in COVID-19 around December or January,” Dr. Lesho said. “Getting a COVID booster in the coming weeks will ensure your immune system has strong protection against the virus during those months, especially if you’re planning to travel by plane or public transportation.”

If you have had a COVID-19 infection in the last 90 days, you may wait several more weeks to get your booster dose because your body has higher immunity from a previous infection.

When is the best time to get a flu shot?

As with the COVID booster, anyone who wants to get their annual flu shot should do so in early November. Flu shots are available to anyone 6 months of age and older.

Influenza is widely prevalent throughout New York State, including several confirmed infections at Rochester Regional Health. There are currently more cases of the flu now than there were at this time last year.

Preparing for an impending flu season, North American scientists are analyzing data from the southern hemisphere in places like Australia and New Zealand. Their flu seasons tend to be similar to flu seasons in the US. Right now, the Australian flu season is the worst in the last 5 or 6 years, a sign that flu season in the US is over. USA could be similar.

For the highest level of protection against serious illness and hospitalizations when cases are expected to peak in the US, get a flu shot as soon as possible. Flu shots are available at most primary care providers’ offices or local pharmacies.

I’m pregnant. Do I still need to get my COVID booster and flu shot?

In short, yes.

Both the COVID booster and flu shots are safe for mother and fetus during pregnancy, science backed by trusted physicians from the American College of Gynecology and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

Pregnant women are at higher risk of serious complications if they are infected with COVID-19 or the flu, so getting both vaccines should help lower that risk.

Pregnant women should still raise any concerns with their OB/GYN if they have any serious conditions that could pose a health problem.

Should I schedule different appointments or get both vaccines at the same time?

Both the flu shot and the COVID booster shot are safe and effective. Whether to get them at the same time is a personal decision.

If scheduling two separate appointments can be difficult, getting both injections at the same time may be the right decision. These injections are no less effective if given at the same time.

On the other hand, if someone tends to have a more noticeable reaction to a vaccine dose (eg, severe arm pain, flu-like symptoms), getting a shot at two separate appointments can minimize the chances to have a stronger reaction.

“Getting a flu shot and an up-to-date COVID-19 booster shot is not a panacea to prevent all infections. However, they are incredibly effective in preventing people from getting seriously ill, being hospitalized, or dying,” said Dr. Lesho. “The next few weeks will be critical in ensuring that we protect ourselves as best we can against these diseases.”

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With cases of the flu and COVID-19 on the rise, our experienced doctors encourage everyone to get as much protection as possible to stay as healthy as possible. We want to make sure you have everything you need to know about treating and preventing the flu and COVID-19, so you and your loved ones stay as healthy as possible.

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