PLAN YOUR VACCINE
University Health recommends getting omicron booster and flu shot now
SALT LAKE CITY — The CDC approved the COVID-19 bivalent boosters that target the most recent omicron variants on September 1. Since then, tens of thousands of Utahns have rolled up their sleeves.
Doctors from University of Utah Health Monday reminded everyone that they should also get vaccinated for the seasonal flu, which could be a bigger threat this year.
Transmission of COVID in Utah is low right now, and the flu has yet to arrive. Doctors urged everyone to protect against both, and now is a good time to get those shots.
“We are likely to have another wave this fall,” said Dr. Hannah Imlay, an assistant professor of internal medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Utah Health.
COVID is down, but not out. Doctors with the University of Utah pointed out that COVID-19 cases have typically increased during the fall and winter.
The updated booster provides optimal protection against current COVID strains and protection against severe COVID from the original strain.
“The hope is that they provide more specific protection while maintaining good protection against the ancestral strain and more specific protection against the most recent strains,” Imlay said.
Since September 1, when the CDC approved the bivalent booster, more than 71,000 Utahns, 12 and older, have received it. That includes nearly 33% of those ages 18-49 and 64% of those ages 50 and older.
“This is supposed to be a new prime of your immune system and a new prime against new variants for your immune system,” Imlay said.
According to the Utah Department of Health and Human Services, 285,000 booster doses have been delivered or shipped to Utah, and people can mix and match with Pfizer and Moderna.
They can even get their seasonal flu shot at the same time if they don’t mind having two sore arms at the same time.
That’s what Dr. Kencee Graves did.
“Bottom line: get them. If you separate them, that’s OK. If you get them together, that’s OK. Just get them,” said Graves, associate professor of internal medicine and Chief Medical Officer for Inpatient Health.
Australia just finished a bad flu season during their winter, which is typically a good indicator of the kind of flu season the United States can expect.
“That is what makes us, here in the US, a little concerned about how severe the flu season could be,” Graves said.
The US did not have much of a flu season each of the last two years, because people were taking precautions to prevent COVID which also limited the spread of other respiratory illnesses.
“It’s recommended that you get a flu vaccine in September or October with a deadline generally of Halloween, October 31,” she said.
Regardless of how many COVID boosters a person got after the primary series of shots, the CDC recommendation now is to get the bivalent booster at least two months after the last dose of primary shots, or the most recent booster.
The CDC also said if you’ve had a recent COVID infection you might want to wait three months until after that infection to get the bivalent booster. if you are at high risk or have an event where you may have exposure risk coming up you might want to get the booster sooner.
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