Cold, flu, and RSV season is here — and that means it is time to protect yourself against the viruses that are going around. You probably know it is important to arm yourself with a yearly flu shot, but are you up to date on the latest vaccines available for COVID-19 and RSV?
Several RSV immunizations and an updated COVID-19 vaccine are now approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration. Summit Health’s Gwen Egloff-Du, PharmD, BCPS, and Khushbu Thaker-Desai, PharmD, BCACP, who specialize in ambulatory clinical pharmacy services, explain everything you need to know about these new vaccines. Find out who should consider getting these shots, how many doses are needed, and why it’s completely fine for eligible patients to conveniently schedule them all at once.
Q. What is the updated COVID-19 vaccine? What strains does it protect against?
The COVID-19 vaccine for the 2023-2024 season covers against a monovalent (single) Omicron variant, XBB.1.5. This new vaccine also protects against other COVID variants that are currently circulating. It is important to receive the updated shot because none of the previous COVID-19 vaccines offered coverage for this series of the Omicron variant.
Q. Who should get the updated COVID-19 vaccine?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the updated COVID-19 vaccine for anyone 6 months and older. Everyone 5 years and older should get one dose of the updated vaccine. Children 6 months to 4 years of age and those 6 months and older who are immunocompromised may need multiple doses depending on the number of doses they previously received.
Q. What side effects should I expect from the shot?
Side effects are the same as with previous COVID-19 vaccines. The most common side effect is pain, swelling, and redness at the injection site. Other possible side effects are tiredness, chills, headaches, fever, muscle aches, and nausea.
Q. Can you get the updated COVID-19 vaccine if you recently had COVID infection?
Although reinfection is less likely in the weeks and months after infection, getting vaccinated provides added protection. Once your symptoms are gone and you have met the isolation guidelines, you are eligible to be vaccinated with the updated shot.
Q. Does Summit Health offer the updated COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes. You can schedule an appointment with your primary care physician at Summit Health to receive the updated COVID-19 vaccine. It is always advisable that patients call ahead of time to make sure there are enough doses available.
Q. Which RSV immunizations are available this season?
Three RSV immunizations are currently approved to protect against respiratory syncytial virus: Beyfortus™, Abrysvo™, and Arexvy. Different immunizations are recommended for certain age groups and populations.
- Beyfortus™ is approved for use in some infants and children. Patients are considered eligible if they are less than 8 months of age during their first RSV season or 8 to 19 months of age during their second RSV season if they are considered at an increased risk for severe RSV disease.
- Abrysvo™ and Arexvy are approved for patients 60 years of age or older at increased risk for severe RSV-associated disease.
- Abrysvo™ is also approved for use in pregnant individuals during weeks 32 to 36 of pregnancy.
Q. Why is it important for these populations to be protected against RSV?
Infants, pregnant patients, and older adults are considered at high risk of RSV-related complications. Administering immunizations to prevent RSV in these populations may reduce the risk of complications including lower respiratory tract disease caused by RSV.
Q. How many doses are needed?
All currently approved RSV immunizations are one-time intramuscular injections.
- Beyfortus™ is available at your pediatrician’s office.
- Arexvy will be available for commercially insured patients 60 to 64 years of age at your primary care provider’s office.
- Patients 65 years of age and older will need to receive Arexvy or Abrysvo™ at the pharmacy since it is only covered by Medicare Part D (Pharmacy Benefits) in this population.
- Pregnant patients can receive Abrysvo at the pharmacy as well.
- It is always advisable that patients call ahead of time to make sure there are enough doses available.
Q. Can you receive the updated COVID-19 vaccine, flu shot, and RSV vaccine all at the same time?
Yes, patients can receive all three immunizations at the same visit.