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HomeHealth & FitnessThe flu, COVID and RSV vaccines are here. Here's your guide...

The flu, COVID and RSV vaccines are here. Here’s your guide to getting vaccinated this season.

The flu, COVID and RSV vaccines are here.  Here’s your guide to getting vaccinated this season.

Reference guide to get vaccinated this season

Here’s what you need to know about getting vaccinated against the flu, COVID and RSV this fall. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Getty Images)

With COVID-19 and flu and RSV hospitalizations rising on the horizon, experts say it’s time to boost your immunity ahead of the fall and winter season. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions.

What vaccines are available?

  • COVID-19: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older receive the new updated monovalent COVID-19 vaccine, which targets the XBB 1.5 Omicron strain and is expected to be effective against circulating variants at the moment.

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  • Flu: The CDC also recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine annually, “with rare exceptions” (that is, if you have had a serious allergic reaction to a flu vaccine in the past or if you have had a life-threatening disease). reaction to any vaccine ingredient in the past).

  • RSV: A vaccine targeting respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) has been approved for adults aged 60 years and older. Monoclonal antibody products (which are not vaccines) are also available to protect infants younger than 8 months. In August, the Food and Drug Administration approved an RSV vaccine for pregnant women that can protect newborns when given between 32 and 36 weeks of pregnancy, but the CDC has not yet issued guidance on the matter.

Can you receive multiple shots at once?

Experts say it’s okay to get COVID and flu vaccines at the same time. Research shows there is only a slightly increased chance of experiencing side effects, such as pain at the injection site or fatigue, when receiving COVID and flu vaccines simultaneously, and there is no decrease in benefit.

“If it’s convenient to get both at the same time, get them at the same time,” Dr. Robert Murphy, executive director of the Havey Institute for Global Health at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, tells Yahoo Life.

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Because the RSV vaccine is new, there isn’t much information about how it might interact with the flu and COVID vaccines. Some research suggests that RSV and flu vaccines produce lower levels of antibodies when given together, “but those levels are probably still high enough to protect people from the viruses,” the New York Times reported.

Which arm should you get vaccinated in?

It doesn’t matter which arm you receive your vaccines in; You can choose to receive multiple injections in the same arm or one injection in each arm.

“Most people will choose to receive it in their non-dominant arm,” Dr. David Buchholz, founding senior medical director of primary care at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, tells Yahoo Life. “Actually, it’s whatever you prefer.”

Is there a better time of day to get vaccinated?

An observational study found that the effectiveness of the COVID vaccine improved from 8.6% to 25% when it was administered around noon instead of in the evening. Another study of adults aged 65 and older found that receiving the flu vaccine in the morning instead of the afternoon improved the antibody response.

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Experts say it all comes down to personal preference; although when considering convenience, Buchholz says he may want to think about getting vaccinated in the morning. Fatigue, a common side effect of the COVID vaccine, usually sets in about 12 hours after receiving the shot, “so if you get it late in the morning, it could be an easy way to fall asleep and then [when you] When you wake up the next morning, the fatigue might be gone,” says Buchholz.

He adds, “Also, if you can do it on a Friday, assuming you don’t work Saturdays and Sundays, that’s probably a good idea too.”

Should you get vaccinated now or wait until later in the fall?

If you were recently infected with COVID, you may want to wait a few months. But otherwise, experts say there’s no reason to delay it. We’re currently in the middle of a COVID surge, and Murphy and Buchholz say it’s not true that flu immunity will “go away” at the end of the season if you get vaccinated now instead of later in the fall or winter.

“Everyone six months and older should receive the flu and COVID vaccine at any time, with RSV taking second place,” Murphy says. “But what you want is to get COVID and flu as soon as possible.”

Any tips to relieve or prevent arm pain?

The CDC says over-the-counter (OTC) medications such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, or antihistamines can help with arm pain, although they should not be taken ahead of time to avoid side effects because “it is not known how.” “Over-the-counter medications could affect how well the vaccine works.”

Continuing to use and move your arm after the injection can also keep things from getting stiff, and applying a cool, wet washcloth can help relieve pain or swelling.

Where can they get vaccinated?

Even though the COVID public health emergency is over, we should still expect to find COVID and flu vaccines in the same places as in previous years, including:

  • Pharmacy

  • Urgent care centers

  • Medical consultants

While larger institutions and hospital systems may be able to get their COVID vaccine supplies sooner, Buchholz says they should be available everywhere in the coming weeks, including smaller offices and independent pharmacies. The RSV vaccine, however, may be less ubiquitous.

“What you need to know about the RSV vaccine for people over 60 years of age is that most pharmacies have it, [and] Smaller doctor’s offices may not have it,” says Buchholz. “So the best thing to do is go to a pharmacy.”

For children, vaccine availability may vary. Some states allow pharmacies to administer vaccines to young children, while others impose age limits. In any case, pediatricians and family doctors are a safe bet.

Are vaccines free? What happens if you don’t have insurance?

  • With insurance: For flu and COVID, “almost all insurance, Medicare and Medicaid, pay for the vaccine,” Murphy says. For RSV, Buchholz says, “Medicare will pay for the RSV vaccine under the Part D benefit at a pharmacy.”

  • Uninsured: Contact your local health department, which often has programs that provide free vaccines to people who otherwise couldn’t afford them. Some public health clinics may also provide vaccines for free.

Do you need to bring your COVID vaccine card?

Those little cards we received at the beginning of the pandemic to show proof of vaccination don’t matter anymore. But as with any medical history, experts say it may still be a good idea to preserve that information.

If you lost your COVID vaccine card and want to replace it, you can contact the location where you received your vaccine to request a new card or a copy of your vaccination record. You can also contact your state health department’s vaccine information system; While they cannot give you a new card, they can provide you with a digital or paper copy with your vaccine information.



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