COVID-19 + Flu Vaccines for Fall 2022: What You Should Know
In this guide, you will find:
- Answers to some frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 bivalent booster.
- An explanation of potential strategies for future COVID-19 vaccinations in the U.S.
- Highlights of COVID-19 treatment innovations to date.
- What you need to know about the 2022/2023 seasonal flu shot.
FAQs: COVID-19 fall 2022 booster shot
- What variant is the latest booster meant to treat? Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized by the FDA to help treat mutations of the original COVID-19 virus. The bivalent “updated” boosters contain two messenger RNA (mRNA) components of SARS-CoV-2, one original strain of SARS-CoV-2 and another in common between the BA.4 and BA.5 lineages of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2. Updated boosters are designed to protect against the Omicron variant, currently circulating globally.
- Who can get the updated booster? The Moderna bivalent booster is authorized for people ages 18 and up, while the Pfizer version is authorized for people ages 12 and up. Various clinical studies were conducted to ensure efficacy and safety.
- What are the side effects of the bivalent booster shot? Booster shot side effects aren’t expected to differ from original shot side effects, according to the CDC.
- When should I get a booster shot? Eligibility for another booster may depend on whether you’ve recently had COVID and the date of your last booster shot or primary series. The CDC has outlined a timeline for eligibility and when to talk to your doctor.
- Can you mix vaccine products? The CDC recommends against mixing products for the primary series of COVID-19 vaccines. Booster shots should follow suit.
For any other questions about COVID-19 boosters, discuss them with your doctor or rely on websites like CDC.gov to provide the latest information and insights.
Plans for future COVID-19 boosters
The White House announced a new plan for the U.S. response to COVID-19 on Sept. 7, 2022—they are aiming for one COVID-19 shot per year. They hope this vaccination strategy will align with annual flu shots. But a yearly vaccination plan to address COVID-19 mutations might not be effective. Annual vaccinations work for the flu because the flu is indeed seasonal, has been around for decades, and mutates in a ladder-like direction.
SARS-CoV-2 is mutating four times faster than the flu—it’s not seasonal or annual. While there is hope COVID-19 will become seasonal like the flu, epidemiologists have cautioned that it’s still too early to consider it a seasonal virus. It may also be a gamble to manage it this way because COVID-19 has also historically surprised the world in how it spreads and mutates.
The fall bivalent booster is the first attempt to apply the yearly flu vaccination model to COVID-19. This is test pilot mode, and its effectiveness is yet to be seen. Your Local Epidemiologist cautions that this COVID-19 model needs to generate real-world results before it’s called an annual vaccine. Winter 2022 will be telling of its efficacy.
COVID-19 treatment progress
The idea of an annual COVID-19 vaccine offers a hopeful tone for the current state of the pandemic, as has treatment progress. Since COVID-19 began to spread in the U.S. early in 2020, there have been many scientific innovations in treating it. But as new variants emerge, there is a need for more innovation to prevent severe illness or death.
The reality is that 400 Americans still die every day from COVID-19, solidifying the virus as the third leading cause of death in the U.S. This virus continues to impact the average life expectancy of Americans, and death rates have not returned to what they were in the pre-pandemic era. According to Worldometer, over 6.5 million people have died worldwide from COVID-19 since Jan. 22, 2020.
Vaccines are meant to help prevent these numbers from growing. Here is some of the latest information you should know about COVID-19 treatment progress:
- First-generation COVID-19 vaccines are estimated to have saved 20 million lives globally in one year.
- Next-generation COVID-19 vaccines have the power to sunset the pandemic.
- 13 nasal COVID-19 vaccines are currently in development—they work very differently than current vaccines, targeting mucosal immunity. (Mucosal, meaning the thin skin covering the inside parts of the body, like the nose and mouth. It produces mucus to protect them.)
- China approved the first inhalable COVID-19 vaccine this September, targeting the Omicron variant.
- Novavax, a vaccine meant to target COVID-19 variants and the flu as a combo vaccine, is in clinical trial phases.
Flu shot for fall 2022
Fall doesn’t just bring an updated COVID-19 booster but an annual flu shot, too! Here are some essential facts you should know about this year’s flu shot:
- Annual flu shots help protect against four flu viruses, identified by researchers, that will be the most common during a flu season.
- Flu vaccines for the 2022-2023 season are meant to protect against two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses.
- There are different flu vaccines from different vaccine manufacturers, licensed and recommended for use in the U.S.
- People ages six months and older are eligible to receive annual flu shots.
- Flu vaccines are meant to prevent the flu and protect against serious illness if you still catch it.
- Vaccinated individuals had a 26 percent lower risk of being admitted to intensive care (ICU) and a 31 percent lower risk of death than unvaccinated individuals, according to a 2021 study. (This is one of many studies that confirm flu shots aid in preventing severe illness and death.)
- The CDC maintains that flu vaccination is especially important for people in high-risk categories like: pregnant women, older adults, young children, and people with weakened immune systems. (Living with diabetes isn’t typically considered immunocompromised.)
- Chronic medical conditions, including diabetes, can increase the risk of flu complications.
- Protection lasts for six to eight months after you receive your flu shot.
The bottom line: you get to decide if you are vaccinated
You may decide to get your flu shot and COVID-19 booster simultaneously, space them out, one or the other, or none at all. The decision is yours alone when choosing to get a COVID-19 booster or flu shot!
And though we are no longer in the emergency phase of the pandemic, we shouldn’t ignore the effect the stress of this pandemic can have on mental health. If you need mental health resources as a person with diabetes, you are not alone.
Click here to get support.