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

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


With Thanksgiving just two weeks away, people who are eligible for an updated Covid-19 vaccination but still haven’t received the shot will need to roll up their sleeves on Thursday to get as much protection as possible before the holidays.

Health officials are concerned about a possible increase in respiratory illnesses this winter — including Covid-19, influenza, RSV and rhinoviruses — and are urging people who have not received the Covid-19 vaccine to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“The way it does protection is by making these proteins, which we call antibodies, which then circulate in the bloodstream. Well, that can’t be done with a snap of a finger. There’s a biological process going on,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the Department 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, this biological process can take about 10 to 14 days.

“So it starts right away, and you gradually get more and more of these antibodies into the bloodstream until, in about two weeks, you’re close to the maximum,” Schaffner said. “A booster actually works like a booster: You get an antibody boost that’s faster than if you started from scratch.”

The rollout of updated boosters has been slow, and there is some urgency to build protection before gathering with family and friends for the holidays — the first pandemic holiday season since most prevention measures, including masks and social distancing, have largely become part of the business. past.

In October, the White House’s co-ordinator for the Covid-19 response, Dr Ashish Jha, said that getting an updated Covid-19 vaccine “the most important thing” Americans can do for their health now.

“The most important thing every American can do to reduce their likelihood of having significant preventable health problems in the next three to six months is to get an updated Covid vaccine,” Jha said. “Additionally, we need to ensure that everyone over 50 or otherwise with high-risk conditions receives treatment if they become infected. We have widely available treatments.”

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

That concern is even greater because relatively few people across the United States have gotten it updated Covid-19 vaccine booster which is now available for those aged 5 and up.

“The message from local health departments on this is that by now you should — if you’re eligible and can — get your patch to keep you safe during the holidays,” Freeman said.

“The longer that time passes since your last vaccination, the more your immunity weakens and you become more susceptible to getting the virus again,” she said. “So all of these things together say that we need to do prevention right now as we prepare for the end of the year and the holiday season ahead.”

Less than 10% of the US population – about 26 million people over the age of 5 – have received an updated dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, according to the data US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Coverage is highest among older adults: More than 1 in 5 older adults who received a primary series also received an updated supplement, compared with about 1 in 15 adults younger than 30.

But the pace of adoption is relatively slow.

About 1 in 5 adults who have their primary series say they will probably or definitely not get an updated refill – a share that has been consistent since at least September, CDC data shows.

“What’s clearly going to happen if we don’t continue to broadly embrace this Covid booster is that the expected spike that we’re expecting with Covid this winter is going to increase even more,” Schaffner said. “So that we could make the season worse from a more serious illness point of view.”

He added that with increased flu activity, a steady rise in RSV and growing concerns about a possible increase in Covid-19 this winter, it will be important to get vaccinated against both Covid-19 and the flu ahead of the holidays – and to make sure the people around you be vaccinated, wash your hands and stay home when sick.

“You could have a rule: You’re all welcome at the Thanksgiving table, for example, if you’re vaccinated and not just against Covid, but also against the flu,” Schaffner said.

Health officials say it’s okay to get updated Covid-19 vaccine and flu vaccine At the same time.

The flu is already spreading in large quantities in some areas.

Last week, government health officials warned about the early and difficult start to the cold and flu season in the United States, saying they are closely monitoring hospital capacity and medical supplies and are ready to send help if needed.

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

RSV and flu cases are on the rise across the United States. At the same time, cases of Covid-19, which had been on the decline, appear to have stalled in the past three weeks, Romero said. A host of new variants are strengthening against BA.5, the Omicron sub-variant that caused a wave of disease over the summer.

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

Last week, Published by Pfizer and BioNTech that the first study participant received a dose of their combined flu and Covid vaccine in the first phase of the trial. The vaccine candidate contains components of the updated Covid-19 booster and their investigational influenza vaccine.

In October, announced Novavax that its Covid-19 and influenza combination vaccine generated an immune response against both the coronavirus and influenza strains, showing “positive results” in a phase 1/2 clinical trial. It’s a “first-of-its-kind” trial evaluating a combination Covid-19 flu vaccine, the company said, and insights from the trial will inform a second phase of the study expected to start by the end of this year. The vaccine being tested is a two-in-one combination of Novavax’s Covid-19 vaccine and its quadrivalent flu vaccine candidate.

Moderna is also developing a combined mRNA vaccine against influenza and Covid-19 and another combined vaccine against influenza, Covid-19 and RSV.

Health officials have long suspected this Vaccination against Covid-19 will be required every year in the future, similar to how seasonal flu vaccines are given each year.

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

“Maybe we’ll see as soon as next year,” she said. “And that will help people more easily make the decision to get both flu and Covid together in one vaccine or together at once wherever they can get their vaccine.”

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