AUSTIN, Texas - Cases of COVID-19 have been increasing across the country. But this week, both the FDA and CDC signed of on updated COVID vaccines, and the shots are not available at many doctor's offices and pharmacies.
Dr. Kristin Mondy, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at UT Austin's Dell Medical School, joined FOX 7 Austin's Rebecca Thomas to talk more about the vaccines, who should get them, and when.
Rebecca Thomas: So federal health officials have approved updated versions of Pfizer and Moderna's COVID vaccines. We've already cycled through several variants of COVID-19 during the past three years. Why do we need to get these new vaccines?
Dr. Kristin Mondy: Still, I recognize this is this can be a tough sell to a lot of people. I was looking at some CDC data and only 17% of Americans took the booster last year. So I think there's a number of reasons. First of all, again, the vast majority of people did not get a booster last year. So really, if you're getting two years out now from having a vaccine or maybe getting COVID, your immunity could really be waning. And then second of all, you know, especially for people who are vulnerable, and that would be particularly older people over 65, we are really starting to see an uptick in cases nationally and here in central Texas. And that's predicted to get worse as we get into the fall in the winter. So that's the second reason. And then lastly, as we've gotten to know more about COVID, more vaccine data showing that if you're vaccinated, you will, even if you get COVID, shed less virus. And shedding less virus means you're less likely to spread it to other people. And that's really important if you're going to be seeing elderly people, maybe grandma, grandpa, your mom or dad. So those are all important reasons.
Rebecca Thomas: Last winter, the US saw a triple-demic of COVID, flu and RSV. Who should get the flu and RSV vaccines, and is it safe to get them at the same time as the COVID vaccine? Or should they be staggered?
Dr. Kristin Mondy: Good question. So for RSV, because that's new for everybody, so that vaccine is really for specific populations. It's for adults. And I'm an adult infectious disease provider. It's really people that are 60 and older, and especially those 60 and older, that might have cardio respiratory conditions. And then in the pediatric population, we see a lot of morbidity and mortality in very young pediatric population. So that's another population for the influenza vaccine. It really hasn't changed. It's pretty much for every for everybody, certainly still recommended for all adults. But of course, again, people that have higher risk conditions like cardio respiratory diseases or immuno compromised, that would be more important. And then you can get the two vaccines together at the same time if you're eligible to also the RSV vaccine.
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Rebecca Thomas: Now, the holidays when people will be gathering are still a few months away. Should we get the vaccines now, or should we hold off a bit? What is the recommendation on that, as far as, you know, lasting protection from the vaccine?
Dr. Kristin Mondy: Right. Well, first of all, since we're already seeing an uptick in COVID, and I know a lot of people who have gotten COVID myself, if you got COVID, you could wait three months. And I think there's some data that people that really are low risk could wait six months. Otherwise, for people who are really at the highest risk, like over age 65 or immunocompromised, I would say go ahead and get it. Get it now, if you haven't again, recently had COVID in the last few months. And then finally, if you're really low risk, it I think it's a little bit controversial. I know anecdotally some friends of mine that are low risk, and they're thinking of maybe waiting for another month or two because as we get into the winter, the burden of cold and COVID in the community will probably even be higher. But certainly, if you are age 65 or especially over age 75, I would not wait. I would get at it. Now, if you're immunocompromised, I would get it now. And for other people, again, just think about your own risk. For instance, say you're going to be in an area with lots of people, maybe a lot of those post ACL indoor concerts or what? You might want to time the vaccine to get that. A couple of weeks before those activities were around so many people. So you'll know that your immunity is at the highest.
Rebecca Thomas: Okay, Great advice. Dr. Kristen Mondy, thank you so much for sharing your time and expertise with us tonight.
Dr. Kristin Mondy: Thank you.