Why Get Vaccinated This Season
As we navigate the COVID-19 and flu season in the United States and beyond, it is important to prioritize our health. Let’s look at what sets this year’s COVID-19 season apart and discuss how vaccination can help keep us and our loved ones protected.
How does this year compare to previous years of COVID-19?
In general, we are much more equipped to manage the public health burden of COVID-19 than in years past – we know much more about the disease and how to better protect ourselves and our loved ones from serious infection or hospitalizations.
Here is the challenge: there is a misconception that COVID is not a concern anymore, and that it is just like a common cold. This is concerning – we know that COVID-19-associated hospitalizations were 2-3x greater than hospitalizations related to seasonal influenza during the 2022-2023 season alone.¹
Vaccines are only as valuable as the number of people who get them,² and there’s work to be done to dispel these misconceptions and encourage our friends and family to get vaccinated.
The CDC has said that the pandemic is over, so why do I need to get vaccinated again?
While the pandemic is officially over, COVID-19 is still an issue. The CDC has recommended that everyone six months and older should get the updated vaccine, even if they’ve received any original COVID-19 vaccine.³ Data has shown that vaccine protection for COVID-19 wanes overtime, prompting the need for updated vaccination to protect yourself.⁴
Viruses are constantly changing and mutating to survive, but mRNA COVID-19 vaccines continue to exhibit strong protection against the variants causing the majority of cases.⁵ According to the CDC, getting a COVID-19 vaccine is also a safer and more dependable way to build immunity to COVID-19 than getting sick with the virus.⁶
How do we encourage colleagues, friends, and families to get vaccinated?
We need to remind ourselves that during the pandemic phase, vaccines have helped contribute to resuming travel and social events, and we want this norm to stay. The fast-approaching holiday season gives us all a reason to consider vaccination. We want to remind friends and family that people at any age can suffer serious illness of COVID-19 and of the role vaccination can play in helping protect themselves, those around them, and their holiday plans.
Additionally, nearly one in five adults who have had COVID-19 still have “long COVID.”⁷ People may experience Long COVID symptoms for months, leading to lost work and school days and absences at family gatherings and other social engagements.⁸ Again, vaccination can help prevent us from missing out and suffering from what can be a months-long illness.
What can we do to care for people who are the most vulnerable?
Protecting ourselves protects others. Not only is it crucial to ensure that vulnerable populations like the elderly and those with underlying health conditions get vaccinated, it’s also important even if you are not high-risk.⁹ Staying up to date on all your vaccinations, including COVID-19 and flu, can keep yourself and your vulnerable loved ones protected this fall and winter. Help encourage your colleagues, friends, and families to book their vaccines at their local pharmacies and care settings. If you have questions about getting the updated vaccines, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider to get the facts.
To find a COVID-19 or flu vaccine near you, visit www.vaccines.gov.
References1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10080400/2. https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/vaccine-efficacy-effectiveness-and-protection 3. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/stay-up-to-date.html4. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2804451?utm_source=For_The_Media&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=ftm_links&utm_term=050323 5. https://publichealth.jhu.edu/2023/what-to-know-about-the-updated-covid-19-vaccine-for-fall/winter-2023 6. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/facts.html7. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/nchs_press_releases/2022/20220622.htm 8. https://covid19.nih.gov/covid-19-topics/long-covid#:~:text=Long%20COVID%20Resources-,Symptoms%20 9. https://www.who.int/westernpacific/emergencies/covid-19/information/high-risk-groups