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How To Stay Healthy Against The Flu And Covid-19 This Fall 

According to reports from a Salt Lake City newspaper, doctors are gearing up for a severe flu season in the coming months after Australia’s season just ended. The US often looks at Australia to predict what the states might experience during a typical flu season. 

Australia reported 300 deaths and 1,700 hospitalizations brought on by influenza season this year. Kencee graves, an associate professor of internal medicine, noted that Utah specifically hasn’t seen major flu outbreaks within the past two years, however, that doesn’t mean other states shouldn’t relax health and safety precautions as the winter season approaches. 

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In 2021, Australia experienced no deaths and very little hospitalizations brought on by the flu, so the major increase in cases this year was unexpected. 

“That is what makes us in the U.S. a little concerned about how severe this flu season could be. That makes this year an important one to get the flu vaccine,” Graves said.

Doctors typically recommend getting a flu shot before Halloween, as flu season officially starts in October in the US, and continues into March, according to Graves. 

Graves also explained that it’s typically okay for one to get a flu and Covid-19 vaccine at the same time, but if you’re an individual who tends to have a severe reaction to vaccines, you should get both doses at different times to allow your body to adjust. 

“A person’s primary series of the vaccine provides immunity to COVID-19, then follow-up boosters add to that immunity. The original boosters were targeted against the original strain of SARS-CoV-2,” Dr. Hannah Imlay, assistant professor of internal medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at University of Utah Health, told KSL

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“But successive waves of different variants have swept across the world, and vaccines don’t target them as well. They do protect against severe disease and death. But the new bivalent booster targets current variants as well as the ancestral strain,” she explained.

Imlay also expressed that people who have received previous Covid-19 boosters should remain well protected, but it’s important to note that “the new bivalent boosters are authorized to be taken at least two months after one’s most recent vaccine dose, regardless of how many boosters a person received.” 

“Spacing out one’s vaccine doses and infection helps increase protection against the disease. If you’ve had a recent COVID-19 infection, it may be best to wait at least three months before receiving the bivalent booster. You’ve got a lot of immune priming from your infection, you get a lot of immune priming from your most recent vaccine dose, so wait some time before getting the bivalent booster,” Imlay recommends. 

The US is still very much coping with the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Imlay there’s an average of 70,000 new cases and 500 deaths a day throughout the nation. 

“That said, a lot of policy decisions and choices that we as a population have made has really transitioned this to being a large-scale public health response to a response that hopefully is more sustainable and kind of has turned to the endemic model, the country will continue to see high numbers of cases,” she explained.

White House Discussing Covid-19 Booster Shot Plan Amid New CDC Data

Top Biden administration health officials have decided that most Americans will need Covid-19 booster shots after reviewing a new set of data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The data showed a drop in vaccine efficacy over time after several months of observation and collection. 

Federal scientists who performed the research claim that a resurgence in Covid-19 cases has been caused by the spreading of the more contagious Delta variant, as well as a lack of individuals choosing to get vaccinated. 

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The Biden administration is now expected to formally announce a strategy plan for rolling out booster shots as well as new health and safety procedures to get America’s infection rate back down. 

The government is not expected to offer third shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines until mid-September at the very earliest. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must first authorize the booster shots, and it’s likely that the CDC will formally recommend that everyone gets one eight months after completing their initial vaccination round. 

As of right now the plan doesn’t call for boosters for recipients of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but federal officials are currently awaiting results of a study on that vaccine and the effectiveness of administering a second booster shot. 

Officials at the CDC have been skeptical within the past few months over whether or not booster shots would be necessary for vaccinated Americans. However, health officials all over the country working on the front lines in hospitals and ICU units have been calling for a more efficient vaccination plan or the implementation of another lockdown to slow the spread of Covid and its variants. 

Data from a study in Israel showed that Pfizer’s efficacy declined for older individuals who received their shots in January when they were first made available. The CDC had similar findings that provided them all they needed to make a recommendation for booster shots. 

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It’s expected that the administration’s emerging booster plan will rely on 100 million doses of both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines. The government has also contracted for an additional 400 million shots to be distributed once an official announcement is made, according to two senior officials working in the White House. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged developed countries to hold off on all booster shots until more lower-income countries get access to their initial supplies of the vaccines. 

“Administration of booster doses will exacerbate inequalities by driving up demand and consuming scarce supply while priority populations in some countries, or subnational settings, have not yet received a primary vaccination series.”

Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist who also served on the Biden transition Covid-19 advisory board, is one of many health experts who also is against booster shots due to the fact that so many countries around the world are still vulnerable and unvaccinated.

“It’s really inequitable and it’s not in our interest because you’re leaving much of the world unprotected, where you’re going to have the emergence of other variants. I feel like this is very short-term thinking. It’s very individualistic, nationalist thinking.” 

A formal plan from the White House is likely to be released to the public this week regarding a booster shot plan and any new procedures America should implement to slow the spread of the virus.