Editorial: Prevent escalating illness by staying updated on flu, COVID-19 vaccines

Child and father at the doctor's office

This article appeared on Tulsa World. Read more here.

The season of flu, colds and COVID-19 is upon us, and it’s time for people to stay up-to-date on vaccines to stave off the severity of sickness.

We believe these inoculations have saved lives by reducing the severity of symptoms and curbed the spread of viruses. The pandemic unfortunately — and unsafely — turned trusted science into politicized tests. But, to prevent escalating illness, people who can get the vaccines ought to consider keeping their shots updated.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends updated COVID-19 vaccines for those 5 and older. For children 6 months to 4 years, the vaccines can be dispensed in multiple doses. For influenza, the CDC recommends a vaccine for everyone 6 months and older. The CDC states it is safe to get the vaccines at the same time.

For people at high risk for serious illness from these diseases, getting the vaccines is particularly important, as stated in a press release by Tulsa Health Department’s Interim Associate Director of Preventive Health Ellen Niemitalo.

“This includes people who are 65 years of age and older, people with underlying health conditions and pregnant women. Vaccines are safe and effective, and they have been proven to help prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death. COVID-19 vaccines also reduce the chance of suffering the effects of Long COVID, which can develop during or following acute infection and last for an extended time.”

Though the emergency measures of the pandemic aren’t necessary, COVID-19 still poses danger to vulnerable populations.

A recent CDC report shows the over-65 age group represents 63% of all COVID-related hospitalizations from January through August. The vast majority of these patients had two or more underlying health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, asthma or chronic lung disease, sickle cell disease and immunocompromised disorders.

Notably, only 24% of those hospitalized were fully up to date on their coronavirus vaccinations, including boosters. So far this year in the U.S., nearly 90% of people who have died from COVID-19 were over 65. Also, this age group makes up 61% of intensive care unit admissions.

The flu doesn’t get as much attention, but it affects millions annually with deadly possibilities for at-risk groups.

Being vigilant about vaccinations will keep our greater community healthy. Consistent handwashing is always important, and masks are another option for people with concerns about spreading viruses. Everyone plays a part in keeping others safe.


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I Vaccinate provides information and tools based on real medical science and research to help Michigan parents protect their kids. Support is provided by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Franny Strong Foundation.

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

As parents, determining how best to protect our children can be overwhelming and confusing. We’re here to help.

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