While it looks like the heat will never end, it will gradually cool off over the coming weeks and months.
With the cold comes certain seasonal viruses, including another possible wave of covid-19.
Doctors in the region are warning of a possible “tridemic” this fall, consisting of influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and covid-19.
To combat these diseases, infectious disease experts advise people, especially the unvaccinated and those at high risk, to consider getting vaccinated to avoid serious illness.
In addition to the projected viral season, there has been a small spike in covid-19 this summer, including in North Texas, where hospitals have seen an increase in the number of infected people over the past month.
Also nationally, the number of cases of Covid-19 is on the rise, according to July data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“We’re far from the peaks we’ve seen before, but we’re seeing a few more cases,” said Dr. James Cutrell, an infectious disease expert at UT Southwestern.
Here’s what you need to know about the recent spike in Covid-19 cases, the updated vaccine, and what other resources are available to protect against viruses this fall:
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Covid-19 and the new booster vaccine
Most current cases of covid-19 are in the XBB and XBB.1.5 sub-options, which are considered less severe than the original omicron variant.
Omicron appeared in early 2022 and caused havoc in hospitals across the country.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a booster vaccine aimed at combating these variants, but it is still under review.
Unlike the previous bivalent boost against the parent strain and the two infectious omicron sub-variants, this new vaccine is specifically designed to fight XBB, explained Dr. Peter Hotes, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.
Also read: How to recognize flu, covid-19, Nile virus, fluronas or cold symptoms
The new vaccine provides protection not only against the currently circulating XBB variant, but also against the EG.5 subvariant, another descendant of omicrons, Hotez added.
Although it is not yet known exactly when the updated booster will be released, Hotez believes that it will be available in early autumn.
“But don’t be surprised if we hear about it by the end of August or the first week of September,” Hotez said.
Should I get an updated covid-19 booster vaccine?
While the spike in Covid-19 cases doesn’t necessarily cause panic, there are resources to protect yourself, Hotez says.
“(The number of cases) is still low, but it’s growing and I’m afraid it will continue to grow, so people should take advantage of the XBB booster,” he said.
Especially people at risk of serious complications should consider getting an updated Covid-19 vaccine.
This may include people over 65 years of age, people with chronic heart or lung disease, immunocompromised people, pregnant women, and people living in nursing homes and care facilities.
Frequent travelers should also seriously consider getting a booster shot given the large number of people traveling by plane and train, Hotez said.
“I think it’s important to emphasize that COVID-19 is on the rise again and it’s good to protect yourself as much as possible,” he added, noting that people are still at risk of being permanently infected with COVID-19.
Previous revaccination protected against infection for two to three months and provided immunity from severe illness and hospitalization for four to six months.
Therefore, even if you received last year’s booster, it is recommended to get the update this season because immunity is weakening.
If you’re still unsure about whether to get an updated vaccine this fall, Cutrell advises assessing three criteria: whether you’re immune-compromised, at risk to others, and your own tolerance for risk.
“This approach is not universal, but it is a matter of thinking at your own risk and for those around you and with whom you interact on a daily basis,” he said.
What’s up with the RSV vaccine?
Adults over the age of 60 can get the newly developed RSV vaccine.
Cutrell advises that people in this age group, thought to be at higher risk of being hospitalized for RSV, should check with their doctor before getting one.
This respiratory illness, which has resurfaced earlier than usual this year, often looks like a cold in healthy people, but it can be deadly in the elderly and children.
In addition, the FDA recently approved a drug called nirsevimab, which is not a vaccine but an injection of monoclonal antibodies.
While the mRNA vaccine stimulates the immune response to produce antibodies, this injection bypasses that process and gives the antibodies directly to children, Hotez explained.
The CDC recommends one dose of nirsevimab for all infants under eight months of age in time for their first RSV season this fall.
Pregnant women, who are generally considered at higher risk for severe illness, can also be immunized against RSV to protect their newborns.
This vaccine is still awaiting approval, but research conducted by Pfizer concluded that the vaccine is 82% effective in preventing RSV in infants.
“If you immunize pregnant women, some of these passive antibodies will be passed on to their children before they are born, and this will protect them after birth,” Cutrell said.
Also read: One in 10 people had long-term omicron covid: study
Do I need to get a flu shot?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that every child six months of age and older get a flu vaccine every season.
The flu started earlier than usual last year, and some experts believe respiratory illnesses could recur in a similar pattern this fall.
“Covid has disrupted the timing of some other respiratory viruses, so we think the flu season has come a little earlier in the last couple of years,” Cutrell said.
Cutrell advises getting a flu shot in September or early October.
In addition, receiving flu and covid-19 vaccines at the same time is considered acceptable and safe.
“From a practical and logistical point of view, in many cases for people who do not see a doctor very often, it would be convenient if they were placed in the same room,” he said.
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