CDC recommending updated vaccines for COVID, flu in fall

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that both updated influenza and COVID-19 vaccines be part of the vaccination plan that people adopt come fall and winter.

The public health agency said that both vaccinations can be safely given at the same time and noted that they protect against severe outcomes for both illnesses, including both hospitalizations and death. The annual toll from the two illnesses is significant: In 2023, more than 916,300 Americans were hospitalized due to COVID-19 and more than 75,500 died as a result of contracting the illness. During the 2023-24 flu season, more than just under 45,000 people died of complications from flu.

COVID-19 vaccine recommendation

The CDC said that updated vaccines for COVID-19 will be available from Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer. The vaccines are being recommended for everyone who is at least 6 months old. Because COVID-19 mutates over time, protection declines. The public health agency said the updated vaccine “can restore and enhance protection against the virus variants currently responsible for most infections and hospitalizations in the United States,” as well as reducing the possibility of developing long COVID.

Per a news release, “To date, hundreds of millions of people have safely received a COVID-19 vaccine under the most intense vaccine safety monitoring in United States history.”

What about the flu vaccine?

September and October are the optimal times to receive a vaccine for influenza, and everyone 6 months old or older should get one, “with rare exceptions,” according to the CDC. Most will need a single dose of flu vaccine during the flu season, but vaccination in July and August is not generally recommended, with a few exceptions.

Those exceptions include pregnant women in their third trimester, who should get one to protect their babies, who will be too young to get their own vaccinations, as well as children who need two doses. Getting the first one as soon as the new vaccines are available is a good idea.

The CDC also said that early vaccination “can be considered” for children who have doctor visits and might not be back for vaccines later.

Two high-risk groups — those 65 and older and people in the first or second trimester of pregnancy — should hold off unless there won’t be a chance to vaccinate them in September and October, per CDC.

The flu vaccines are built to protect against H1N1, H3N2 and a B/Victoria lineage virus.

Said Dr. Mandy Cohen, CDC director, in a written statement, “Our top recommendation for protecting yourself and your loved ones from respiratory illness is to get vaccinated. Make a plan now for you and your family to get both updated flu and COVID vaccines this fall, ahead of the respiratory virus season.”

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You’ve got questions. That’s a good thing.

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