Kids are back in school and it’s time to think about viruses, for both yourself and them.
It could be an early flu season in the United States, if what happened in the Southern Hemisphere offers any insight, according to Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles.
What vaccines are available?
The flu vaccine is now available in some locations. A new COVID-19 booster has been approved by federal health officials. And new respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccines are recommended for some.
It’s important to get the flu shot in September or October, according to infectious disease specialist Dr. Soniya Gandhi, associate chief medical officer at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles.
“Even a typical flu season can be deadly and can cause significant hospitalization,” Gandhi said in a Cedars-Sinai news release, pointing to 58,000 deaths in the United States and more than a half-million hospitalizations due to last year’s flu. “We should do what we can to protect ourselves — and others — with the best tool we have: the flu vaccine.”
Not only that, but COVID-19 and RSV could again spike at the same time as the flu, triggering a “tripledemic,” Gandhi said.
When that happened last year, emergency departments across the country filled up and young patients strained children’s hospitals. RSV can be dangerous, even deadly, for infants and older adults.
New ways to protect yourself from RSV
New RSV shots are available for babies and adults over 60.
“These new shots and vaccines could really help protect us and our community during the upcoming season,” Gandhi said. “We need to preserve capacity in hospitals for those patients who really need that care.”
RSV is the leading cause for infant hospitalization in the United States, even though many other people experience it as a mild cold.
“There’s really no way to predict how your child would do, even if they’re completely healthy,” said Dr. Priya Soni, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Cedars-Sinai Guerin Children’s. “If they do end up having a horrible course with RSV, they will likely need to be