Ahhh, fall – the season of cooler weather, changing colors, pumpkin pie spice-flavored everything and vaccine updates. It’s time to get your flu shot and the updated COVID-19 immunization shot. Here are important things for you to know.
Everybody needs the new COVID-19 injection. Getting vaccinated protects you, your family and your community against serious illness. The updated shot is protective against the strains that emerged last winter, spring and summer and that are occurring now. My suspicion is that we’re going to have an updated COVID immunization every fall along with an updated flu immunization.
It’s absolutely okay to get your flu shot and your updated COVID immunization on the same day, even in the same arm. Doing so will not affect the immunity that you have or will develop for either flu or COVID-19. Getting both vaccines during one visit might be a better idea than doing them one or two weeks apart. What if something comes up and you forget to come back and get that second shot?
If you’ve not gotten COVID-19 injections in the past, you do not need to have the previous vaccinations. Consider yourself updated when you get this fall’s injection.
Everybody should be able to get the new COVID-19 vaccine. You can get it through private insurance, Medicaid, Medicare and the Bridge Access Program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this program provides free COVID-19 vaccines to uninsured and underinsured individuals. Your health care provider, pharmacy or local health center know how to access the program.
For the COVID-19 vaccine, don’t wait longer than three months since your last vaccine or the last time you had COVID. In either case, your immunity starts waning after four to six weeks. You need the updated shot especially if you’re at higher risk with underlying health conditions.
People who had a strong allergic response to a COVID-19 vaccine should talk with their health care provider before getting the updated COVID-19 immunization. When I say “allergic response,” I’m talking about a full body rash, tongue or lip swelling, difficulty breathing and a trip to the emergency room. I’m not talking about feeling tired or achy or experiencing headache for a day or two after your injection. Those symptoms mean your body recognizes something new is there it doesn’t recognize, and it’s building antibodies to fight it in the future and keep you protected. I get these “low key aches” after I get flu and COVID shots, too, and it makes me happy because I know I’m less likely to get seriously ill later.
Everyone six month of age and older is recommended to get both flu and COVID-19 shots. The DMU Clinic – Family Medicine has both vaccinations available for individuals ages 5 and older. Call 515-271-1710 to make an appointment.
A 2002 graduate of DMU’s Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine program, Sarah Parrott, D.O., FAAFP, is chair of the osteopathic clinical medicine department at the university and a family physician at the DMU Clinic – Family Medicine.