With fall well underway, you might be thinking about how to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy.
Part of that – especially as we spend more time indoors – may include the current recommendations for COVID, flu and RSV vaccines. Kaiser Permanente is here to help.
“We can do so much to prevent ourselves from missing work and vacations. Vaccines are the most powerful tool to keep us well and prevent serious illness,” says Dr. Adam Jonas, a Primary Care doctor at Kaiser Permanente based in Everett, Washington.
“If you do not do it for yourself, you should get vaccinated for the people around you. People were masking during COVID, so we saw the flu go down at that time. However, the flu came back in full swing last winter, and we’re anticipating a full-blown flu season this year,” Dr. Jonas says, recommending that all those who qualify get the COVID, flu and RSV vaccines.
COVID, Flu and RSV: Who should get them and how often
“We’re encouraging people who come in to get COVID, flu and RSV vaccines as soon as they can. The great thing about Kaiser Permanente is that whether you come in for an annual physical or a sprained ankle, we have a system that reminds you to think about preventive health, too,” Dr. Jonas explains.
Those at high risk or who have comorbidities such as autoimmune diseases or conditions, asthma, Type 2 diabetes or other high-risk health issues are encouraged to ask their provider for guidance about accessibility, their own vaccine schedule, and whether they would qualify to get a vaccine outside of the recommended schedule.
● COVID vaccine: The current recommendation from the CDC and the FDA are that those who are six months and older should be vaccinated once a year. “Dosing patterns depend on what the CDC tracks. For now, we’re currently recommending people get the COVID vaccine at least once a year,” Dr. Jonas explains. The FDA and CDC will follow what variants arise, and they will decide on whether the formulation needs to change in June of every year to provide the best protection against poor health outcomes from COVID-19 infection. “If you have not received a COVID vaccine in the last two months, you should get an updated MRNA COVID vaccine,” Dr. Jonas says. Additionally, if you are high risk, talk to your provider about getting an additional or updated vaccine. Dr. Jonas also recommends you speak to your provider about your individual risk factor.
● Flu vaccine: The flu vaccine is currently recommended for all people aged six months and older once a year. A high-dose flu shot is recommended at for those 65 and older.
● Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine: The FDA and CDC have approved RSV vaccines for those who are 60 or older and a new RSV monoclonal antibody (a form of immunization) for newborns/infants under eight months. Some of these infants may remain at increased risk of severe illness through a second season of RSV and would require the treatment a second time. Dr. Jonas adds that your provider can help you determine your baby’s risk factors.
Good decisions for a healthy life
Dr. Jonas recommends you not forget the basic steps that help protect your health this winter season, too. Masking has been shown to be a very effective practice in reducing transmission of respiratory viruses when they are in high circulation in our communities. Staying home when ill with a respiratory illness also helps reduce transmission to others. “Sleep is one of the most important things” Dr. Jonas says. In addition to sleep, Dr. Jonas adds that it is important to wash your hands. Fall and winter are great seasons to spend time indoors with family and friends, but it’s also important to think about keeping everyone healthy.
Kaiser Permanente is recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve.
For more information, go to about.kp.org.