With Fall comes the start of cold and flu season. Whether you work in a family medicine clinic, urgent care, emergency department, pediatric office, or specialty clinic, you can’t escape the nasty viruses that cause upper respiratory infections and wreak havoc on our immune systems.
Public health officials are warning about a triple threat this upcoming season: flu, COVID and RSV. One of the best ways to keep ourselves and our patients safe from these respiratory illnesses is vaccines.
Here are some vaccine updates for the 2023-2024 season:
- The CDC continues to recommend getting a flu shot in September or October to stay protected the entire season.
- This year’s flu vaccine will have an updated influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 component, as this is projected to be the most common strain.
- Patients with egg allergies no longer have to only receive the egg-free vaccine. The CDC now recommends any flu vaccine to patients with a history of egg allergy.
- Updated COVID vaccines with the XBB.1.5 variant of Omicron are expected to be released pending a review of updated studies and FDA approval.
- Public health officials are now recommending annual COVID vaccines instead of the initial vaccine with booster schedule.
- The CDC now recommends the RSV vaccine for patients 60 and up following a shared decision-making conversation with their clinician.
- The RSV monoclonal antibody is recommended for all infants younger than 8 months during or entering their first RSV season and a second dose is recommended for high risk infants and young children under 2.
As health care providers, staying up-to-date on vaccine updates is essential to providing the best care for your patients. Here are a few key takeaways:
- Education: Stay informed about the latest guidelines and recommendations from reputable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Communication: Communicate openly with your patients about the importance of getting vaccinated against the flu, COVID-19 and potentially RSV, especially in high-risk populations.
- Flexibility: Be prepared to adapt your vaccination strategies based on evolving guidelines and the emergency of new variants or viruses.
Stay well, Hippo NPs!