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

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


With Thanksgiving just two weeks away, people who are eligible for the updated Covid-19 vaccine but haven’t yet received the vaccine 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 are not up to date on their Covid-19 vaccinations 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, it can’t be done with the snap of a finger. There is a biological process that happens,” said Dr. William Schaffner, 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, that 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 your 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 starting 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 holiday season of the pandemic since most prevention measures, including masks and social distancing, have largely become a thing of the past.

In October, White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said that the procurement of an updated vaccine against Covid-19 “the most important thing” Americans can do for their health right now.

“The most important thing any American can do to reduce the likelihood of having significant preventable health problems in the next three to six months is to get an updated Covid vaccine,” Jha said. “In addition, we need to make sure that everyone over 50 or others who have high-risk conditions get 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, local health officials are increasingly concerned that the spread of Covid-19, influenza and RSV will increase in the coming weeks, Lori Tremmel Freeman said. , chief executive officer of the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

That concern is heightened 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 about this is that by now — if you’re eligible and you can — you should get a booster to protect you during the holidays,” Freeman said.

“The longer it’s been since your last refill, the more your immunity weakens and you become more susceptible to getting sick from the virus again,” she said. “All of these things together indicate 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 aged 5 and over – have received an updated dose of Covid-19 doses, 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 the primary series also received an updated booster, 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 booster – a share that has been consistent since at least September, CDC data shows.

“What will clearly happen if we still don’t get widespread acceptance for this Covid booster is that the expected increase that we expect with Covid this winter will increase even more,” Schaffner said. “So that we can make the season worse from a more serious illness point of view.”

He added that with flu activity on the rise, RSV continuing to rise and concerns growing about a possible spike in Covid-19 this winter, it will be important to get your Covid-19 and flu shots ahead of the holidays – and to make sure those around you get vaccinated. , wash your hands and stay home when you are sick.

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

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

The flu is already spreading at high levels in some areas.

Last week, state health officials warned of the early and serious 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 exposed to some respiratory viruses for the first time, because they avoided these viruses during the peak of the pandemic,” said Dr. Jose Romero, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Across the United States, cases of RSV and influenza are on the rise. At the same time, cases of Covid-19, which had been on the decline, appear to have plateaued in the past three weeks, Romero said. A raft of new variants is growing 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 provide protection against both flu and Covid-19 in a single injection.

Last week, Announced by Pfizer and BioNTech that the first study participant received a dose of their investigational combination flu and Covid vaccine in the phase 1 trial. The vaccine candidate contains components of the company’s updated Covid-19 drug and its investigational flu vaccine.

in October, announced by Novavax that its combination Covid-19 and flu vaccine generated an immune response against the coronavirus and flu strains, showing “positive results” in a phase 1/2 clinical trial. The trial is the “first of its kind” to evaluate a combination Covid-19 vaccine, the company said, and insights from the trial will inform a Phase 2 study expected to begin later this year. The investigational vaccine is a two-in-one combination of Novavax’s Covid-19 vaccine and its quadrivalent flu vaccine candidate.

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

Health officials have long suspected this Vaccinations against Covid-19 will be required every year in the future, much like seasonal flu shots are given every 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 next year,” she said. “And that will help make it easier for people to decide to get both flu and Covid either together in one vaccine or together wherever they can get their vaccine.”

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