Fall is when we all come back together. The kids are back in school. Conferences are happening at home and across the country. The holidays are right around the corner. September is a great time to make sure your vaccinations are up to date.
Vaccines protect you and the people around you.
Vaccines to prevent infectious diseases are given to millions of babies, children, adolescents, and adults every year. In the United States, our life science industry and our government agencies work hand in hand to make sure vaccines are safe, effective, and accessible to the people who need them directly and indirectly. Following the CDC approved and recommended vaccinations schedules, at every age is important.
In addition to protecting people from disease, vaccination also helps keep diseases from spreading when people interact with others in their community. Not everyone is able to be vaccinated. People with certain conditions or diseases have compromised immune systems. They rely on the rest of us to be vaccinated so their risk of exposure to a disease that their body may not be able to handle is reduced.
Delays and Detours
The COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the gap in routine immunization rates as routine healthcare visitors were missed or delayed. The CDC has reported a concerning drop in routine immunizations for children and adults. Levels of routine vaccination are rebounding but some demographic groups are more behind than others. Many children and adults that delayed vaccination during the pandemic are still behind schedule.
In addition to the delay in routine healthcare visits, vaccine misinformation has been on the rise across the web and social media. This may have led some of us to making healthcare decisions that strayed from the physician recommended path.
Did you get your flu shot yet? The CDC recommends everyone 6 months old and older get vaccinated each year by the end of October. This will give you the best protection for the entire flu season. The flu vaccine can significantly reduce your risk of catching the flu. And if you get a flu shot and still get the flu, the vaccine helps reduce your risk of severe illness and hospitalization.
It takes about 2 weeks for the flu shot to do its work,. Getting vaccinated early in the fall is recommended by many health experts.
New: Protection against RSV
According to the CDC, RSV is an RNA virus, and transmission occurs primarily via respiratory droplets when a person coughs or sneezes, or through direct contact with a contaminated surface. Infants, young children, and older adults, especially those with chronic medical conditions, are at increased risk of severe disease from RSV infection. CDC estimates that every year RSV causes approximately 58,000–80,000 hospitalizations (1,2) and 100–300 deaths (3,4) in children ages <5 years, as well as 60,000–160,000 hospitalizations (5,6) and 6,000–10,000 deaths (3,4,7) among adults ages 65 years and older.
Two RSV vaccines are approved by the FDA and recommended by the CDC for adults 60 years of age and older. They are now available from many doctor’s offices and local pharmacies. The two RSV vaccines available this fall are
The CDC issued a Heath Alert on September 5, 2023: Increased Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Activity in Parts of the Southeastern United States: New Prevention Tools Available to Protect Patients. The health alert includes the following recommendation for the public:
- Expectant parents, parents of infants under the age of 8 months, and parents with older babies (through age 19 months) at increased risk of severe RSV disease should talk with their healthcare providers about using monoclonal (preventive) antibodies to protect against RSV this season. Infants under the age of 8 months should receive preventive antibodies to protect against RSV this season.
- Adults ages 60 years and older should talk to their healthcare provider about whether RSV vaccination is appropriate for them.
- Stay home and away from others when you are sick. If you are at increased risk of severe illness, contact your healthcare provider to see if you would benefit from early diagnostic testing. Treatments for influenza and COVID-19 are available that, if given within days of symptoms starting, can reduce your risk of hospitalization and death.
Ensuring the safety and effectiveness of vaccines is a top priority for vaccine manufacturers and at the Food and Drug Administration. FDA provides scientific and regulatory advice to vaccine developers and evaluates proposed new vaccines as well as monitors the safety and effectiveness of vaccines that have been helping people for generations. FDA’s processes for evaluation to determine the safety and effectiveness of vaccines are among the most robust in the world.
Vaccines are drugs and all drugs can have side effects. That is why FDA requires prescribing information for a vaccine is up-to date based on scientific data. This includes the approved indication(s), usage, dosing, and administration. While prescribing information does not necessarily address all aspects of vaccine use, this provides the guidance health professionals need and use when delivering care to their patients.
Vaccines have prevented countless cases of disease and disability and have saved millions of lives.
The CDC estimates that vaccination of children born between 1994 and 2021 in the U.S. will prevent 472 million illnesses, help avoid 1,052,000 deaths, and save nearly $2.2 trillion in total societal costs (that includes $479 billion in direct costs).
Getting back on track
A simple internet search on “cdc vaccine schedule” will direct you to the website with CDC’s recommended vaccine schedule. Print out the schedule that is age appropriate and review it with your healthcare professionals at your next visit. They can provide you with guidance on what is best for your personal health situation and help you get back on track if needed.