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The latest vaccination news: flu, COVID-19 and RSV

October 5, 2023
By Boca Grande Health Clinic

Fall has arrived and marks the start of a new season as many residents begin their return to Boca Grande. Our small island population again expands, restaurants reopen to welcome everyone back, and the cocktail party invitations start flowing. We can’t wait to see you!

The best way to make the most of your time on the island is to be aware of the spread of seasonal flu, a new variant of COVID-19, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), especially when gathering with seniors or people who are immunocompromised. 

Get your flu shot before you return

This time of the year also puts us into the annual flu season. The good news is that flu shots should work well this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

We recommend you get your flu shot prior to traveling back to the island. That will provide you with protection and help better protect island residents. The flu vaccine is considered safe and effective. 

Data from the CDC show that last season, people vaccinated against the flu were about 40 percent to 70 percent less likely to be hospitalized because of flu illness or related complications, compared to people who had not been vaccinated.

Updated COVID vaccine 

The CDC in mid-September announced new guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination, recommending that anyone over 6 months and older should get the updated vaccine this fall, whether or not you have been vaccinated against the virus before. 

The new COVID-19 shots, made by Pfizer and Moderna, target a subvariant of Omicron, called XBB.1.5. The majority of the COVID-19 viruses circulating now are closely related to that strain, the CDC said, and the vaccine makers say early findings suggest their shots will also work for the latest strains, including BA.2.86.

Like the flu shot, we recommend getting the new COVID-19 vaccine before traveling back to the island.

RSV vaccine recommended for the over-60 crowd

The Food and Drug Administration recently approved two new RSV vaccines for people 60 years and older. RSV is a common cause of respiratory illness in older adults (as well as infants and young children). 

RSV causes substantial morbidity and mortality in older adults each season, including lower respiratory tract disease, hospitalization and death. Vaccination against RSV should occur before the fall and winter RSV season begins. 

Older people start to lose immunity as they age, and it’s harder for them to fight off infections, such as RSV, as well as they did when they were younger. Whether to get the RSV vaccination is based on individual health situations and should be determined in consultation with your doctor.

Together, or apart?

The CDC says it is safe to get your flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time. Additional research is happening to fully understand the administration of the RSV vaccine along with other adult vaccines, so it’s best to have the RSV shot separately, after a full conversation with your doctor.

Vaccination clinics coming soon

The Boca Grande Health Clinic will be organizing flu and COVID-19 vaccines later in October for registered patients. Please call the Clinic at (941) 964-2276 to register for a vaccine time slot.