New or updated vaccines soon available for trio of respiratory viruses
TAHOE CITY, Calif. — Placer County Public Health is encouraging residents to take advantage of new and updated vaccine and antibody options for COVID-19, flu and RSV in order to stay healthier this fall season.
Residents are encouraged to access vaccines through their regular health provider. Depending on supply, Public Health may also offer limited flu vaccines at community events, particularly for individuals who are uninsured or have Medi-Cal.
In the last year (July 2022 – June 2023), COVID-19 contributed to the deaths of 118 Placer residents, influenza contributed to 29 deaths and RSV contributed to 10 deaths.
“These new and updated vaccines are especially important for vulnerable individuals, including seniors and those with compromised immune systems,” said interim health officer Dr. Rob Oldham. “They offer protection against serious illness and can help keep you out of the hospital. It can be hard to keep track of changing guidelines and eligibility, so check in with your doctor if you have questions.”
Here’s a look at some of the options and their availability:
Updated COVID-19 vaccine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet Sept. 12 to discuss the new monovalent vaccine for COVID-19, which was developed to more closely match circulating strains. If the CDC and Food and Drug Administration sign off, vaccine is expected to arrive later in September and will be widely available to those eligible through healthcare providers and pharmacies.
Unlike previous years, Placer County Public Health is expecting to receive a limited number of updated COVID doses through the CDC’s Bridge Access program, and will not be offering open community clinics this year. Public Health’s limited doses will be primarily used in targeted outreach efforts primarily to uninsured patients.
“We’re very grateful to residents who have patronized our COVID community clinics in the past, from our mass vaccination clinics @the Grounds in 2021 to our smaller operations throughout the county last year,” said Michael Romero, director of Public Health. “We understand that these clinics may be missed, yet encourage folks to go to their regular provider.”
Updated flu vaccine
Flu vaccine for the upcoming season is now available through many healthcare providers and pharmacies (visit vaccines.gov for some options). Flu vaccination is recommended annually for everyone 6 months and older – yet especially important for young children; pregnant women; adults aged 65 and older; and people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and asthma.
Public Health anticipates offering flu shots at several local community events this fall, particularly intended for those who are unable to access shots through their regular provider. Additional events may be publicized on the county website as added.
New RSV vaccine and antibody shot
For the first time, there are now RSV vaccines approved for older adults and for pregnant people, and antibody shots available for babies. RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, but can be serious for some including older adults and infants.
Adults 60 years and older and women in their 32nd through 36th weeks of pregnancy may receive a single dose of RSV vaccine, based on discussions with a health care provider. Vaccination during pregnancy offers protection to the infant.
A new RSV antibody shot is also available to infants under 8 months and some older babies at increased risk of severe illness. Most children get RSV by age two – and for infants under one, it is the number one cause of hospitalization.
Given clinical considerations and insurance requirements, Placer County Public Health is unlikely to administer RSV shots directly, yet will support community members in accessing them through regular healthcare providers.
“The broader menu of respiratory virus immunizations is a welcome development and yet we realize it can cause confusion,” Oldham said. “At the end of the day, the bottom line is to connect with your regular healthcare provider to determine your eligibility and get your shots – you’ll head into the fall and winter season with a much stronger set of armor.”
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