With COVID-19 hospitalizations on the rise and the flu and RSV on the rise, experts say it’s time to boost your immunity ahead of fall and winter. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions.
What photos are available?
COVID: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone aged 6 months and older receive the new, updated monovalent COVID-19 vaccine, which targets the XBB 1.5 Omicron strain and is expected to be effective against the variants currently circulating.
Flu: The CDC also recommends that everyone aged 6 months and older get a flu vaccine every year, “with rare exceptions” (that is, if you have had a serious allergic reaction to a flu vaccine). flu in the past, or if you have had a life-threatening reaction). reaction to a vaccine ingredient in the past).
RSV: A vaccine targeting respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) has been approved for adults aged 60 and older. Monoclonal antibody products (which are not vaccines) are also available to protect infants younger than 8 months. In August, the Food and Drug Administration approved an RSV vaccine for pregnant women that may protect newborns when given between 32 and 36 weeks of pregnancy, but the CDC has not yet released guidelines on this subject.
Can you take multiple photos at once?
Experts say it’s OK to get COVID and flu shots at the same time. Research shows that there is only a slightly higher risk of experiencing side effects such as injection site pain or fatigue when getting the COVID and flu vaccine simultaneously, and there is no reduction in profits.
“If it’s practical to get them both at the same time, get them both at the same time,” Dr. Robert Murphy, executive director of the Havey Institute for Global Health at the Feinberg School of Medicine at the University, told Yahoo Life. Northwestern University.
Because the RSV vaccine is new, there isn’t much information about how it might interact with the flu and COVID vaccines. Some research suggests that RSV and flu vaccines produce lower levels of antibodies when given together, “but those levels are probably still high enough to protect people against the viruses,” the New York reported Times.
In which arm should you receive your injections?
It doesn’t matter which arm you receive your vaccines in; you can choose to have multiple shots in the same arm, or one shot in each arm.
“Most people will choose to receive it in their non-dominant arm,” Dr. David Buchholz, founding senior medical director of primary care at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, told Yahoo Life. “Really, it’s what you prefer.”
Is there a time of day when it is best to get vaccinated?
An observational study found that COVID vaccine effectiveness improved from 8.6% to 25% when administered around midday rather than in the evening. Another study of adults aged 65 and older found that getting a flu vaccine in the morning rather than the afternoon improved the antibody response.
Experts say it really comes down to personal preference; However, if comfort is a consideration, Buchholz says you may want to think about getting vaccinated in the morning. Fatigue — a common side effect of the COVID vaccine — usually occurs about 12 hours after getting the vaccine, “so if you get it late in the late morning, it can be an easy way to fall asleep, then (when you) you wake up. the next morning, that fatigue might actually disappear,” says Buchholz.
He adds: “Also, if you can do it on a Friday – assuming you don’t work Saturday and Sunday – that’s probably a good idea too. »
Should you get vaccinated now or wait until later in the fall?
If you have recently been infected with COVID, you may want to wait a few months. But otherwise, experts say there is no reason to delay. We’re currently in the midst of a COVID surge, and Murphy and Buchholz say it’s not true that flu immunity will “disappear” by the end of the season if you get vaccinated now instead than later in fall or winter.
“Everyone six months and older should get their flu and COVID vaccine at all times, and RSV would be a close second,” Murphy says. “But you want COVID and flu as soon as possible.”
Any tips for relieving or preventing arm pain?
The CDC says over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, or antihistamines can relieve arm pain, although you should not take them ahead of time to avoid side effects. because “it is not known how over-the-counter medications might affect how well the vaccine works.”
Continuing to use and move your arm after the injection can also keep things from getting stiff, and applying a cool, damp washcloth can help relieve pain or swelling.
Where can you get vaccinated?
Even though the COVID-19 public health emergency is over, we should still expect to find COVID-19 and flu vaccines in the same locations as in years past, including:
Urgent Care Centers
While larger institutions and hospital systems may receive their COVID vaccines sooner, Buchholz says that within the next few weeks they should be available everywhere, including small practices and independent pharmacies. The RSV vaccine, however, might be less ubiquitous.
“The thing to know about the RSV vaccine for those 60 and older is that most pharmacies have it, (and) smaller doctor’s offices may not have it,” Buchholz says. “So your best bet is to go to a pharmacy.”
For children, vaccine availability may vary. Some states allow pharmacies to administer vaccines to young children, while others have age limits. In all cases, pediatricians and family doctors are a safe bet.
Are vaccines free? What if you don’t have insurance?
With insurance : For flu and COVID, “almost all insurances, as well as Medicare and Medicaid, pay for the vaccine,” Murphy says. For RSV, Buchholz says, “Medicare will pay for the RSV vaccine under Part D at a pharmacy. »
Without insurance : Contact your local health department, which often has programs offering free vaccines to people who otherwise couldn’t afford them. Some public health clinics may also provide vaccines for free.
Do you need to bring your COVID vaccine card with you?
Those little cards we received at the start of the pandemic to prove our vaccination don’t really matter anymore. But as with any medical record, experts say it can be a good idea to keep this information.
If you have lost your COVID vaccine card and want to replace it, you can contact the place where you received your vaccine to request a new card or a copy of your vaccination record. You can also contact your state health department’s immunization information system; Although they cannot give you a new card, they can provide you with a digital or paper copy of your vaccine information.