What to know to be protected this fall and winter

This fall, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends all Americans consult with their health care provider about receiving vaccines for COVID-19 and seasonal influenza (flu). In addition, an RSV vaccine may be recommended by health care providers for adults ages 60 and over and for pregnant people. Preventative treatments or therapies for RSV may be recommended for infants and young children.

“Vaccines not only protect the individual who is vaccinated, but also those with whom they come in contact,” says Lorna Fitzpatrick, MD, vice president medical affairs and senior medical director at Univera Healthcare. “When we are out in public, it isn’t readily apparent who among us has a compromised immune system, and for whom catching COVID-19, flu, or RSV could be deadly.”

Dr. Fitzpatrick also notes that since COVID-19, RSV, and flu are each caused by a virus, antibiotics are not a treatment option. Prevention is key, and vaccines provide the best protection.

A local pharmacy may be the most convenient site to get vaccinated. Many health plans will cover your vaccine in full if you receive the shot from an in-network provider.

Who should get an updated COVID-19 vaccine this fall?

CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older get an updated COVID-19 vaccine to protect against the potentially serious outcomes of COVID-19 illness this fall and winter. If you have not received a COVID-19 vaccine in the past 2 months, an updated COVID-19 vaccine can protect you. The virus that causes COVID-19 is always changing, and protection from COVID-19 vaccines declines over time.

Who should get the flu vaccine?

Everyone 6 months and older in the United States should get the seasonal influenza (flu) vaccine every season with rare exception. Flu is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. During typical flu seasons, millions of people get flu, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands to tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes.

Who should get the RSV vaccine?

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a highly contagious lung infection. Symptoms in kids and healthy adults are usually mild and like a cold. In older adults (age 60+), people with heart and lung disease, and anyone with a weak immune system, RSV can lead to bronchiolitis and pneumonia, result in hospitalization, and can even cause death. There are two RSV vaccines approved for adults ages 60 years and older. The CDC does not have a preferential recommendation for either vaccine. Patients who are 60 years and older may receive whichever vaccine is available, in consultation with their health care provider. Pregnant people should consult their health care provider to see if the RSV vaccine is recommended. Parents or caregivers of infants and young children should consult the child’s pediatrician to see if a preventative therapy or treatment for RSV is recommended for them.