Flu & Covid Vaccine Timing and Covid Update

Flu & Covid Vaccine Timing and Covid Update

Andrew Chuma No Comment
General Wellness

The CDC has been promoting the latest Covid vaccine, encouraging people to get boosted while simultaneously getting the annual flu vaccine. Although I am still very much in favor of vaccination and I think getting both simultaneously is perfectly safe, I question the timing.

We know that the protection all the Covid vaccines provide wanes over time, with vaccine boosters being encouraged every 6 months or so. Well the same waning immunity occurs with the flu vaccine. The estimates are that protection against getting the flu and/or having severe symptoms decreases by a little more than 10% each month. We also know that although the majority of the flu season is in the winter, there is often also an early spring spike in cases. Given that, to maximize coverage, I would encourage people to wait until mid October to get the shot. It is only a matter of a month, but that month may mean the difference between getting sick or not, early in 2023. Unlike Covid, flu vaccine boosters are not available as of now.

If you are past 6 months after your last Covid booster, I would get that now and the flu shot next month.

As far as Covid goes, numbers keep slowly dropping. Compared with 2 weeks ago, both ICU admissions and death have dropped by 8% and hospitalizations overall have dropped by 10%. That having been said, this disease is still with us and remains the 4th leading cause of death, but you would not think that given our general attitude about it. Which is that it no longer exists and we should just go about our lives like there is no Covid. 

I am shocked by the number of patients I am seeing every day with long haul Covid symptoms and by how many people report Covid infections in the last 2-3 months. I was just at a meeting where I attended a lecture about this very topic. There is a significant incidence of odd smell and taste symptoms which are developing months after infection, even in those who did not have any initial smell and taste complaints when infected. Parosmias, which are distorted smell perceptions, and phantosmia, perception of odors which do not exist, like dirty socks, burnt coffee or rotting meat, are starting to be seen more commonly. I spoke with a cardiologist a few months ago who was reporting on studies showing continued inflammation in the hearts of people infected with Covid who had no cardiac complaints presently nor at the time of infection. He is concerned that years from now, the cardiology community will be dealing with an outbreak of heart failure from the slow, unrecognized damage this virus continues to cause in the heart. The same concerns should be appreciated in other organ systems like the brain, pancreas and kidney, all of which have been identified as targets of the virus. The lungs are the obvious site, but it really affects every part of our bodies. And who knows how this virus will impact the developing brains and bodies of our children.

There is a new variant out there, BA 2.75.2. It is very early in its appearance and we know very little about how it behaves, but it is a reminder that this virus continues to evolve. But we have stopped evolving and have returned to our regular, arguably oblivious and distracted lives.

The bottom line is that this virus is still with us and you do NOT want to get it if you can avoid it. Masking, distancing, avoidance of crowded social situations, vaccination… These are all strategies we must continue to think about and employ if we want to remain healthy. Yes we need to live, but if we want to do so healthfully, not only now but in the future, we need to re-think habitual, daily behavior. 

Stay safe and be well.


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