The College of Kentucky Public Relations and Strategic Communications Workplace offers a weekly well being column out there to be used and reprint by information media. This week’s column is by Vince Venditto, Ph.D., an assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences within the UK School of Pharmacy.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 25, 2023) — Because the climate will get colder and gatherings transfer indoors, vaccines stay the most secure and best approach to defend ourselves from COVID-19. On Sept. 11, 2023, the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration authorised the up to date mRNA COVID-19 booster vaccines to align with the at the moment circulating variants. The vaccines are really helpful for everybody 6 months and older to guard towards the intense outcomes of COVID-19. Vaccines are free to most individuals within the U.S. who’ve medical insurance, and out there free of charge to everybody by native well being facilities, or taking part pharmacies. UK HealthCare offers COVID-19 vaccines freed from cost no matter insurance coverage, and entry to free vaccines outdoors of UK HealthCare might be discovered at Vaccines.gov.
Is COVID-19 nonetheless with us?
The virus that causes COVID-19 remains to be circulating with a number of counties in our area with elevated charges of hospitalization. Nationally, there’s about an 8% improve in hospitalizations and 5% improve in deaths over the previous week. Because the climate will get colder and extra individuals collect indoors, it’s doubtless that the an infection charge and hospitalizations will proceed to extend. It is very important stay aware of your self and others for the potential threat of an infection with SARS-CoV-2, flu and RSV.
Isn’t the virus getting weaker and never making us as sick?
It’s true that there are decrease charges of hospitalization and demise from the virus as in comparison with the height pandemic, however that is due largely to the immune response after vaccination and an infection. New variants of the virus proceed to emerge with modifications that typically result in elevated threat of an infection, elevated severity, or means to keep away from our immune system. Vaccination stays the most secure methodology to guard ourselves from extreme illness.
Can we nonetheless want vaccines?
Vaccination is the second most vital public well being intervention solely behind clear ingesting water. The vaccines are designed to enhance our immune response to combat a possible an infection, and the brand new vaccines are designed to supply improved immunity towards the virus that’s at the moment circulating, which aligns with how the flu vaccines are developed every year. Because the virus continues to alter, new vaccines turn into mandatory to focus on the virus that we’re probably going to be uncovered to.
What’s completely different with the brand new vaccine?
The brand new mRNA vaccines are based mostly on the XBB.1.5 variant and carefully associated to different at the moment circulating variants. Whereas earlier vaccines and boosters have been efficient at inducing strong immunity, the brand new vaccines align higher with the variants which can be at the moment circulating to supply a further increase to our immune system. The opposite change to this vaccine is that it’s monovalent — that means there is just one variant included. The prior booster consisted of two variants and the brand new vaccines present a extra targeted immune response on what’s at the moment circulating. Presently, solely the up to date mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna have been authorised and an alternate vaccine from Novavax is at the moment beneath overview by the U.S. FDA.
When ought to I get the vaccine?
It is suggested that COVID-19, flu and RSV vaccines are obtained within the fall round late September and early October. All three vaccines might be given throughout the identical go to or spaced out over three completely different visits. The largest advantage of getting all three on the identical time is comfort.