Fall’s Vaccine Lineup: The Inside Scoop on Flu, COVID-19, and RSV

Posted by Lisa Stovall on Mon, Sep, 18, 2023

3 Fall Vaccines Ah, fall! That magical season that sweeps in on a gust of pumpkin spice and cable-knit coziness. But just as the leaves start to drop, so does our collective immunity. Meet fall's less charming cousins: respiratory viruses that aim to turn our sniffles into something more sinister. 

Once upon a pre-COVID time, armoring up for the season was as simple as rolling up a sleeve for a flu shot. Fast-forward to the pandemic plot twist, and we've got a new heavyweight contender in the vaccine ring: the COVID-19 jab.

Now, a third shot is available for specific groups for the first time: a vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). This respiratory disease poses a significant threat to infants and older individuals.

While the whirlwind of news leaves many confused and overwhelmed, the approach for 2023 is crystal clear: think broader and act wisely. As we enter this new season, it is essential to stay informed and take proactive measures to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

Learn all the critical details about these three vaccines that you should know for this fall.

RSV: The New Kid on the Block

What is it?
RSV, an acronym for Respiratory Syncytial Virus, is no stranger to the winter season. While typically manifesting as a cold-like illness, it becomes a formidable threat to young children and older adults.

Who should get the RSV shot it?
After receiving federal approval, the CDC now advises that individuals aged 60 and above have the option to receive a single dose of the RSV vaccine through shared clinical decision-making. This approach encourages open communication between healthcare providers and patients to assess the potential benefits of RSV vaccination.

For infants, the CDC is now recommending a groundbreaking new immunization available this fall. This immunization is designed to protect all infants under eight months old, as well as some older babies who are at a higher risk of severe illness caused by RSV.

It's an incredible long-acting monoclonal antibody product that has been proven to reduce the risk of hospitalizations and healthcare visits for RSV in infants by an astounding 80 percent. This innovative solution provides a much-needed shield of protection for our little ones during the winter season.

Influenza: The Old Adversary

It is essential to get vaccinated every year to safeguard yourself against influenza, as it can have severe implications, especially for susceptible groups like adults over 65 and individuals with underlying health conditions. The flu shot not only helps reduce the risk of contracting the virus but also minimizes the severity of symptoms if infection does occur. 

Why is it important?
With an annual toll of approximately 35,000 American lives, and a potential of causing debilitating conditions even in the young, the flu is not to be underestimated. Its repercussions are vast, indirectly contributing to heart attacks and strokes, particularly in older adults.

When to get the flu shot?
Timing is everything when it comes to getting your flu shot. Don't wait for the perfect moment, as you might miss out on the incredible benefits of annual flu vaccination. These vaccines can prevent 40 to 60 percent of influenza cases, especially when they are well-matched to the circulating flu viruses. However, if you prefer to align your flu shot with the typical flu season, October is undoubtedly the optimal choice.

Related: Why On-site Flu Shots are a Must-Have for a Healthy Workplace

COVID-19: The Relentless Foe

The State of Affairs:
COVID-19, the bane of our last few years, continues to lurk with mutating variants. Amid a rise in COVID-19 infections - public health experts are tracking the numbers

The primary defense arsenal remains consistent: vaccines and post-infection treatments. Despite broad recommendations for the updated booster shot released last fall, only 17 percent of the U.S. population got it — and about 43 percent of those over 65.

New Shots:
The new vaccines, which have been reformulated to target new variants, are recommended for everyone ages 6 months and older. Last week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the updated mRNA vaccines for 2023-2024 from drugmakers Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech.

The recommendation is straightforward: all adults should consider getting a booster. With waning immunity in many, a booster shot can significantly diminish the virulence of COVID-19.

Even though children have a lower risk, they are not excluded from this protection strategy. Supporters of the vaccine emphasize the importance of safeguarding the health of the community and protecting our vulnerable loved ones.

Post-infection Treatments:
Paxlovid, an incredible pill in the fight against COVID-19, received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May. This medication is specifically designed to combat mild-to-moderate cases of COVID-19 in adults who are at a high risk of developing severe illness. Additionally, under an FDA Emergency Use Authorization, Paxlovid remains available for individuals aged 12 and older with mild-to-moderate disease and are at a high risk for severe illness. Its effectiveness in preventing hospitalization and reducing the severity of symptoms makes it a crucial tool in our ongoing battle against COVID-19.

Protect Your Team 

The good news is that Moderna and Pfizer expect to produce combination vaccines protecting against influenza, COVID-19, and possibly respiratory syncytial virus within a few years.

HR leaders and wellness managers must adopt a multi-pronged approach this fall. Combining COVID-19 shots with the annual flu shot can maximize defense mechanisms. Being proactive rather than reactive is key. Ensuring your employees are vaccinated will protect them and contribute to community health and workplace productivity.

So as the seasons change, make sure you're equipped to navigate the shifting landscape of respiratory illnesses. After all, the best offense is a good defense.

Stay informed, stay safe, and here's to a healthier autumn for all.

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Topics: Workplace Flu Shots, In the News


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