Viral respiratory illnesses like the common cold and seasonal flu make their dreaded returns each fall and winter, keeping sick kids and adults out of school and work. These infections typically peak in late December or January, but this year, the winter virus season started sooner than usual in the U.S. — which suggests the worst may be yet to come.
Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health advisory about the early increase in cases of respiratory infections this year, especially among young children, and warned of the so-called “triple threat” presented by the convergence of three of these illnesses: respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza (the seasonal flu) and COVID-19. The risk is highest for infants younger than 6 months, whose immune systems are not yet fully developed, as well as for adults age 65 and older and those with certain chronic health conditions.
Health care professionals expect a continued climb in the spread of all three infections in the coming months, leaving in their wake thousands of hospitalizations and deaths across the country — but the best tool for prevention is vaccination. While there is not yet a vaccine against RSV (though some are in development), vaccines that protect against COVID-19 and the flu are available and recommended for nearly everyone over 6 months of age. (The best way to protect infants younger than 6 months is by vaccination during pregnancy.)
All flu vaccines in the U.S. are “quadrivalent,” meaning they guard against four different flu strains, and the CDC advises that they may be co-administered with any dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Moreover, recent data on the newly updated “bivalent” COVID-19 booster vaccine, which targets both omicron and the original coronavirus, suggests it provides more protection against one of the main variants currently driving up cases.
Also, don’t forget those basic but important preventative measures — frequent hand-washing, covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and staying at home and isolating when sick — to help protect yourself and others this winter virus season.
Vaccinations are available now at McCook’s Pharmacy, with no appointment necessary. Simply drop in between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, or 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Saturday.
Established in 2005, McCook’s is a locally owned and operated full-service pharmacy offering double drive-through windows and convenient city-wide delivery. New customers are always welcome! Contact McCook’s by phone at (912) 764-2223 or find more online at www.mccookspharmacy.com.