Winter is Coming – So is the Flu Season, Possibly Including New Covid Infections

Winter is Coming – So is the Flu Season, Possibly Including New Covid Infections

Again, while this is not legislative news, seniors are being warned about the coming flu season because they and people with compromised immune systems are the most vulnerable to severe, or even fatal disease.

Kaiser Health News offers these guidelines as winter approaches.

“If you’ve completed a primary vaccination series and are 50 or older, or if your immune system is compromised, get a covid booster shot as soon as possible. Forty percent of deaths are occurring among people 85 and older and almost 90% among people 65 and over. Although people of all ages are being hospitalized from covid, those hospitalizations are also skewing older.

“Unvaccinated people, while in the minority in the U.S., are still at the highest risk of dying from covid. It is not too late to get vaccinated ahead of this winter season. The United Kingdom, whose covid waves have presaged those in the United States by about a month, is beginning to see another increase in cases.

“If you’ve already received three or more covid shots, you’re 12 to 49 years old, and you’re not immunocompromised, your risk of hospitalization and death from the disease is significantly reduced and additional boosters are not likely to add much protection.

“However, getting a booster shot provides a ‘honeymoon’ period for a couple of months after vaccination, during which you are less likely to get infected and thus less likely to transmit the virus to others. If you will be seeing older, immunocompromised, or otherwise vulnerable family and friends over the winter holidays, you might want to get a booster two to four weeks in advance to better shield them against covid.

“One major caveat to these recommendations: You should wait four to six months after your last covid infection or vaccination before getting another shot. A dose administered too soon will be less effective because antibodies from the previous infection or vaccination will still be circulating in your blood and will prevent your immune cells from seeing and responding to vaccination.”

As far as the seasonal flu shot goes, Kaiser Health News has these additional guidelines.

“The CDC [Center for Disease Control] recommends that anyone 6 months of age or older get an annual flu shot. The ideal timing is late October or early November, before the winter holidays and before influenza typically starts spreading in the U.S. Like covid shots, flu shots provide only a couple of months of immunity against infection and transmission, but an early flu shot is better than no flu shot. Influenza is already circulating in some parts of the United States.

“It’s especially important for people 65 or older, pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions, and children under 5 to get their yearly flu shots because they’re at highest risk of hospitalization and death. Although younger people might be at lower risk for severe flu, they can act as vectors for transmission of influenza to higher-risk people in the community.

“High-dose flu vaccines and ‘adjuvanted’ flu vaccines are recommended for people 65 and older. Adjuvants strengthen the immune response to a vaccine.”

While the CDC has said it is ok to get both shots at the same time, some doctors are advising that it might be best to separate them by a couple of weeks so that any side effects are not compounded.