Recent estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal that less than 2 in 5 individuals in the United States have received the flu vaccine this season, with a mere 16% of adults and 7% of children having obtained the latest Covid-19 vaccine.
As we enter the holiday season, it's more important than ever to prioritize vaccination against respiratory viruses like the flu, Covid-19, and RSV. Health experts stress the critical importance of vaccination in preventing illness and maintaining the health of individuals and communities.
In a video shared on social media, Dr. Mandy Cohen, the Director of the US CDC, highlights the urgency, stating, "To protect yourself and your family this holiday season, take the steps that we do every year to protect ourselves. It’s not too late to get vaccinated if you haven’t already."
Highlighting the timeline for optimal protection, infectious disease expert Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University advises, "Do it right away." Given that it takes approximately two weeks for vaccines to provide full protection, obtaining the vaccination now would align with the upcoming holiday gatherings. However, the shots also offer additional protection before and after this period.
Despite the growing number of respiratory virus cases, vaccination rates remain stubbornly low. The number of weekly hospitalizations for flu, Covid-19, and RSV has increased significantly, with new admissions for respiratory viruses up 35% during the week ending November 18 compared to the previous month.
The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine, the updated Covid-19 shot for everyone aged 6 months and above, and a new RSV vaccine for those 60 and older. Alarming statistics indicate that less than 2 in 5 adults and children have received the flu vaccine this season, with only 16% of adults and 7% of children having obtained the latest Covid-19 vaccine.
A November survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that most adults in the US are not overly concerned about contracting or spreading Covid-19 during the holidays. However, experts caution against complacency. CDC forecasts suggest a challenging respiratory disease season, mirroring the strain experienced by hospitals in the previous year, if not surpassing pre-pandemic levels.
"We have an early signal that these viruses are not going to go away and will be active in our communities," warns Dr. Schaffner. "We can mitigate that impact if, as a population, we take advantage of these vaccines. Furthermore, we’ll also reduce some of the stress on our healthcare systems."
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