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Flu, COVID-19, and RSV Vaccines Simplified

As winter approaches, so does the season of respiratory viruses like influenza, COVID-19, and RSV. Understanding which vaccines you need and when can you and others stay healthy during upper respiratory virus season.

Influenza Vaccines: Guarding Against the Flu

"Influenza is a severe respiratory virus that can make people quite sick, leading to fevers, cough, and shortness of breath," explains Dan Fulton, MD of McFarland Clinic Infectious Diseases.

The influenza vaccine is reformulated annually to match circulating strains. Everyone over 6 months of age is recommended to get the influenza vaccine. "The flu vaccine not only prevents illness but also reduces the severity if you do get sick," says Dr. Fulton. "Plus, getting vaccinated helps curb the spread of the flu to others in the community."

Updated COVID-19 Vaccines

"This year, an updated COVID-19 vaccine is available, matched to the current variant," notes Dr. Fulton. The vaccine's goal is to protect individuals from severe illness and reduce the overall spread of the virus. Like the flu vaccine, the updated COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for everyone ages 6 months and older. The vaccine is effective and contributes to community immunity.

RSV Vaccines: New Protection for Vulnerable Groups

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), known for affecting small children and older adults, has recently seen the development of a vaccine. "The RSV vaccine is particularly recommended for pregnant women in their third trimester and adults over 60, especially those with underlying health conditions," says Dr. Fulton.

For adults over 60, the vaccine is considered on an individual basis, depending on their health status. "It's a conversation to have with your doctor to assess the risk and benefits," advises Dr. Fulton.

RSV antibody immunization for infants–which is different from the vaccine for adults–may be recommended if the infant's mother did not receive an RSV vaccine in the third trimester. Consult your child's doctor for more information.

How to Get Your Flu, COVID-19, RSV Vaccines

As winter settles in, taking proactive measures such as vaccinations, testing, and seeking medical advice when needed can help keep you and your community healthy. McFarland Clinic has the latest vaccines for influenza, COVID-19, and RSV. Talk with your primary care provider or see our Upper Respiratory Illness page for more information.

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