Respiratory Illness: 3 Types to Watch This Fall

Oct 5 12:13pm | Kristin Eggebraaten | @keggebraaten

While some of us are still experiencing the hot summer temps, we must acknowledge that it is actually fall once again. And with the fall season comes the respiratory illnesses we all hope to avoid. The viruses responsible for causing most infections in the fall and winter are influenza, COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Flu and COVID aren’t new to you, but RSV might be something you haven’t considered.

Flu is an illness you could potentially prevent, or lessen your chances of serious illness, with an annual vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates they will provide people in U.S. with 156 to 170 million doses of influenza vaccines this flu season. Even with the controversy surrounding vaccines lately, doctors are still advocating for the flu vaccine and COVID boosters because they are the best way to prevent serious illness, especially for those who are immune compromised and their close contacts.

RSV might be a new consideration for some. If you are 60 or older, check with your local doctor about the RSV vaccine and find out if it’s right for you.

Your local doctor or local health department web page should list vaccine locations near you. Some locations may even offer the flu vaccine, COVID booster, and RSV vaccine at the same time.  Information on vaccines at Mayo Clinic can be found here.

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age or older be vaccinated (with an age-appropriate vaccine) annually against influenza. Mayo Clinic recommends annual influenza vaccination to all transplant candidates, transplant recipients, their caregivers and other close contacts. As a transplant patient, you should not receive the FluMist, nor should any of your caregivers or close contacts. The FluMist is a live virus vaccine and could cause people with weakened immune systems to become ill. Although not 100% effective, getting a flu shot is worth the needle stick. Flu shots are the most effective way to prevent influenza and its complications.

If you are a transplant patient at another facility or you have contraindications to the vaccine, contact your care team to ask about their recommendations for this flu season.

What you can do to stay healthy in addition to being vaccinated?

It’s easy to do some common things to stay healthy this flu season:

  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water
  • Use an alcohol-based sanitizer on your hands if soap and water aren't available
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth whenever possible
  • Avoid crowds when the flu is most prevalent in your area
  • Get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly, drink plenty of fluids, eat a nutritious diet, and manage your stress

Do you get your flu vaccine every year? Make it part of your fall routine! Tell us about how you stay healthy.



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