Dallas — It feels like the heat is not over yet, but the weather is getting cooler. should It will happen in the coming weeks and months. Along with it comes certain seasonal viruses, including the possibility of a new wave of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Local doctors have warned of a possible “triple infection” this fall, consisting of influenza, respiratory syncytial virus and COVID-19. To combat these diseases, infectious disease experts are urging people, especially those at high risk and unvaccinated, to consider vaccination as a measure against serious illness.
In addition to the virus season expected in the fall, there has been a slight uptick in COVID-19 cases this summer, including in northern Texas, which has seen an increase in the number of infected cases in hospitals in the last month. Covid-19 cases are also rising nationwide, according to July data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We haven’t reached some of the past peaks, but we’re seeing some more cases,” explained Dr. James Cattrell, an infectious disease specialist at UT Southwestern University.
Here’s what else you need to know about the recent surge in COVID-19, the latest shots, and other tools available to protect against the virus this fall.
What you need to know about COVID-19 and the latest boosters
Most current COVID-19 cases consist of the XBB and XBB.1.5 subvariants, which are considered less severe versions of the original Omicron variant. Omicron surged for the first time in early 2022, wreaking havoc on hospitals across the country.
The Food and Drug Administration recently approved new boosters for these variants, but a vaccine is still awaiting approval. According to Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, this new vaccine specifically targets XBB, unlike previous bivalent boosters that targeted the original strain and two infectious ommicron submutants. It is said to be targeted.
This updated vaccine not only provides protection against the currently circulating XBB variant, but also targets another descendant of Omicron, its closely related EG.5 submutant, Hotez said. added Mr.
It’s unclear exactly when the latest booster will roll out, but Hotez expects a vaccine to be available by early fall.
“But don’t be surprised if you start hearing about it by the end of August or the first week of September,” he said.
Need to get the latest COVID-19 booster?
Hotez said that while the rising number of COVID-19 cases does not necessarily cause panic, there are tools available that provide protection.
“[Cases] It’s still low, but it’s on the rise and I’m very concerned that it will continue to rise because people really need to take advantage of the XBB boosters,” he said.
People who are at high risk for serious complications should especially consider getting the latest COVID-19 vaccine. These include people over the age of 65, people with chronic heart or lung disease, people with weakened immune systems, pregnant women, and people living in nursing homes or nursing homes.
With so many people traveling by plane and train, those who travel a lot should think more seriously about getting the latest boosters, Hotez said.
“I think it’s important to emphasize that the number of new coronavirus infections is on the rise again,” he said. added that it was exposed to
Previous boosters protected against infection for about 2-3 months and provided immunity against the risk of severe disease and hospitalization for 4-6 months. Therefore, even if you received last year’s booster, it is recommended that you get the latest booster this season as your immune system is weakened.
If you’re still undecided about whether to get the latest COVID-19 vaccine this fall, Cattrell asks whether you’re immunocompromised, the risks to those around you, and your own risk tolerance. We recommend evaluating three criteria.
“I don’t think this approach is one-size-fits-all, but it’s about taking into account your own personal risk and the risks of those closest to you and those you interact with more broadly on a daily basis,” he said. said.
What is the position of the RSV vaccine?
Adults over the age of 60 are eligible to receive the newly developed RSV vaccine. Cattrell advised that people in this age group are considered to be at higher risk of hospitalization for respiratory syncytial virus infection and to consult a doctor before contracting the virus.
The respiratory disease, which surged earlier than usual this year, is usually similar to the common cold to healthy people, but can be life-threatening not only for young children but also for the elderly.
Additionally, the FDA recently approved a drug called Nilsevimab, which is an injection of a monoclonal antibody rather than a vaccine. While mRNA vaccines stimulate an immune response to produce antibodies, this vaccine shortens that process and gives the antibodies directly to the infant, Hotez explained.
The CDC recommends nircevimab for all infants under 8 months who will have their first RSV season this fall.
Pregnant women, who are generally considered to be at high risk of severe disease, will also be vaccinated against RSV as a means of protecting their newborns. The vaccine is still awaiting approval, but a study conducted by Pfizer found it was 82% effective in preventing respiratory syncytial virus in infants in the first few months of life.
“When pregnant women are vaccinated, some of the passive antibodies are passed on to the baby before it is born, helping to protect the baby after delivery,” Cattrell explained.
Should I Get a Flu Vaccination?
The CDC recommends seasonal influenza vaccinations for people 6 months and older. Influenza epidemics struck earlier than usual last year, and some experts believe respiratory illnesses could follow a similar pattern this fall.
“I suspect that the flu epidemic has sped up a little in recent years because COVID-19 has disrupted the timing of other respiratory viruses,” Cattrell said.
Cattrell recommends getting a flu shot in September or early October. In addition, it is considered acceptable and safe to receive flu and COVID-19 vaccinations at the same time.
“From a practical and logistical standpoint, it’s often the most convenient for people who don’t go to the doctor often to be seen in the same office,” he says.