Thanksgiving is two weeks away. Get your updated Covid-19 vaccine now, health officials warn

Thanksgiving is two weeks away.  Get your updated Covid-19 vaccine now, health officials warn


With just two weeks to go until Thanksgiving, people who are eligible for an updated Covid-19 vaccine booster but haven’t yet received the shot will need to roll up their sleeves on Thursday to get the most protection possible. before the holidays.

Health officials are concerned about a potential rise in respiratory illnesses this winter, including COVID-19, the flu, RSV, and rhinoviruses, and are urging people who are not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations to to get vaccinated as soon as possible. possible.

“The way it protects is by creating these proteins, which we call antibodies, which then circulate in the bloodstream. Well, that can’t be done with a snap of the fingers. There is a biological process taking place,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

After receiving the updated Covid-19 vaccine, that biological process can take between 10 and 14 days.

“So start right away, and gradually you get more and more of these antibodies in your bloodstream until, about two weeks, you’re close to peaking,” Schaffner said. “The booster actually works like a booster: You get a spike in antibodies that’s faster than if you started from scratch.”

Rolling out the updated enforcements has been slow, and there is some urgency to build protection before gathering with family and friends for the holidays — the pandemic’s first holiday season since most prevention measures, including masks and social distancing, they largely became things of the world. past.

In October, Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House Covid-19 response coordinator, said that getting the updated Covid-19 vaccine is “the most important thing” Americans can do for their health right now.

“The most important thing every American can do to reduce the chance of having significant and preventable health problems in the next three to six months is to get an up-to-date Covid vaccine,” Jha said. “Beyond that, we need to make sure everyone over the age of 50 or with high-risk conditions gets treatment if they get infected. We have widely available treatments.”

As colder weather sets in, people spend more time indoors and more holiday celebrations are planned, concern is mounting among local health officials that there will be an increase in the spread of Covid-19, the flu and the coronavirus. RSV in the coming weeks, said Lori Tremmel Freeman, executive director of the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

That concern is further heightened because relatively few people in the United States have obtained the Updated reinforcement of the Covid-19 vaccine which is now available for ages 5 and up.

“The message from local health departments on this is that you should already, if you are eligible and able, get your booster to protect you over the holidays,” Freeman said.

“The more time passes since you got your last booster, the more your immunity wanes and the more susceptible you become to getting sick with the virus again,” he said. “So all of those things together explain that we have to do prevention right now as we prepare for the end of the year and the holiday season ahead.”

According to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.. Coverage is highest among older adults: More than 1 in 5 older adults who received their primary series also received an updated booster, compared to about 1 in 15 adults under the age of 30.

But the pace of adoption is relatively slow.

About 1 in 5 adults who have their primary series say they probably or definitely won’t get the updated booster, a proportion that has been constant since at least September, CDC data shows.

“What will clearly happen if we still don’t have widespread acceptance of this Covid booster is that the anticipated surge that we expect with Covid this winter will increase further,” Schaffner said. “So we could make the season worse from a more serious illness standpoint.”

He added that with increased flu activity, a continued rise in RSV, and growing concerns about a possible surge in COVID-19 this winter, that’s why it will be important to get both COVID-19 and flu shots before the holidays. , and to make sure those around you are vaccinated, wash their hands, and stay home when they’re sick.

“You could have a rule: Everyone is welcome at the Thanksgiving table, for example, if they are vaccinated and not only against covid, but also against influenza,” Schaffner said.

Health officials say it’s okay to get the updated Covid-19 booster and flu shot at the same time.

The flu is already spreading at high levels in some areas.

In the past week, government health officials warned of an early and severe start to the cold and flu season in the United States, saying they were closely monitoring hospital capacity and medical supplies and were ready to send help if needed.

“We suspect that many children are being exposed to some respiratory viruses now for the first time, after avoiding these viruses during the height of the pandemic,” said Dr. José Romero, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. .

In the United States, cases of RSV and influenza are increasing. At the same time, Covid-19 cases, which had been declining, appear to have plateaued in the last three weeks, Romero said. A number of new variants have been gaining ground against BA.5, the Omicron sub-variant that caused a wave of illnesses over the summer.

Looking ahead, some vaccine makers, including Novavax, Pfizer and BioNTech, are developing two-in-one combination vaccines that will offer protection against the flu and Covid-19 in a single injection.

In the past week, Pfizer and BioNTech announced that the first study participant received one dose of their investigational combined flu and covid vaccine in a phase 1 trial. The vaccine candidate contains components of the companies’ updated Covid-19 booster and their investigational flu vaccine .

In October, Novavax announced that its combined Covid-19 and flu vaccine generated immune responses against coronavirus and influenza strains, showing “positive results” in a phase 1/2 clinical trial. That trial is “the first of its kind” to evaluate a combined flu and Covid vaccine, the company said, and insights from the trial will inform a phase 2 study expected to start later this year. The investigational vaccine is a two-in-one combination of Novavax’s Covid-19 vaccine and its quadrivalent flu vaccine candidate.

Moderna is also developing a combined flu-Covid-19 mRNA vaccine and another combined flu-Covid-19-RSV vaccine.

Health officials have long suspected that Vaccines against covid-19 will be required annually in the future, similar to how seasonal flu shots are given each year.

A combination vaccine could be available as early as the next flu season, Freeman said, making it easier for people to roll up their sleeves annually.

“We may see it as soon as next year,” he said. “And that will help make it easier for people to make the decision to get both flu and Covid together in one vaccine or together at once wherever they can get vaccinated.”

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