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What former US surgeon general and WISH medical expert says about COVID, RSV

Health Spotlight 11/16/23

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — While the worst days of the pandemic are past, COVD-19 remains a public health threat, and winter could bring rising levels of infection from coronavirus.

Dr. Jerome Adams, the WISH-TV medical expert and a former U.S. surgeon general, said, “We know that people are traveling by plane, by train, by car, and we also know that people are gathering around individuals who are vulnerable. You’re going to visit grandma. You’re going to see people in nursing homes. So, for all those reasons, we know we’re going to see in increasing COVID cases, hospitalizations and, unfortunately, deaths, and that’s why it’s imperative that we take precautions to protect ourselves.”

Masking may be required where it makes sense, but, Adams said that “one of the most important things that we can do is make sure we’re up to date on our vaccines.

“Most people haven’t gotten a new vaccine in well over a year. Just like we do every year with flu, we update the vaccines for currently circulating variants. People need to make sure they’re best-protected going into this holiday season with the new updated COVID vaccines.”

Adams said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone 6 months and older can get a vaccine. However, for people 65 and older, people should remember that age group represents 90% of the deaths from COVID.

“So if you’re a viewer who’s over 65 and you haven’t gotten an updated vaccine, please talk to your doctor, talk to your pharmacist, talk to your health care provider, get your questions answered, but you really need to get that updated vaccine.”

He added that people who use inhalers for asthma, or medicines for diabetes, heart conditions or high blood pressure are at higher risk of getting the coronavirus.

Plus, he said, people who’ve had COVID should delay a vaccination until two or three months after a recent infection. However, after that time, people should get a COVID shot.

“You don’t want to have to cancel Thanksgiving dinner or a trip out to go see loved ones because you got COVID or because someone else has COVID.”

RSV immunization for infants

Adams also talked Thursday about a new RSV immunization for infants that became available this year. RSV stands for respiratory syncytial virus.

He says demand for the vaccine is stronger than anticipated, and parents are complaining they cannot get it.

“RSV is a pretty severe infection when young babies get it, and so the CDC released doses from the stockpile — over 70,000 doses — to help more parents get that shot.

“If you’re someone who’s pregnant, you can still get the adult version of the RSV vaccine and your antibodies will then protect the baby. If you have a baby who’s under the age of 1 year, talk to your doctor because this is another one of those things that can really help you get through the holiday season with a lot less hassle and hopefully with better health.”

Health Spotlight is presented by Community Health Network.