Health

A Word to the Wise

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It became evident to me one and a half years ago that those Americans who were 65 or older were the wisest among all of us. We were the age group that was listening to the scientists and getting the lifesaving COVID-19 vaccinations that had just been approved. In all honesty, from my point of view, it really didn’t take a whole lot of smarts for older Americans to get vaccinated. We were the ones who were experiencing the brunt of the deaths in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Just as a reminder, of the 1,072,281 Americans who have died of COVID-19, 804,394 were 65 or older. To put that in perspective, our age group accounted for 75.2% of the COVI-19 deaths while only making up 16.5% of the total population. Almost everyone lost an older friend, grandparent or parent to COVID-19. Who can forget the pictures of the gurneys carrying the dead out of assisted living facilities? It was a terrible time. The new vaccines saved the lives of countless seniors.

We all have been looking forward to a “normal” holiday season. I’ve traveled by air, eaten in restaurants and attended the Broadway musical The Music Man and, in short, acted normal. Well, as the line in that beloved musical so eloquently states, “we’ve got trouble with a capital T . . . right here in River City”.

We are now facing a new threat, the emergence of what many are calling a “tridemic” or “tripledemic” which is a threat of three different infections created by simultaneous surges of COVID-19, the flu, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). We expected a rise in COVID-19 infections in the fall and winter, but we also are seeing an early rise in flu cases and now with RSV affecting younger people, we are seeing our hospitals again begin to fill up. It is important to note that RSV isn’t a new infection, and it is also prevalent in older people. What do we do?

This tridemic is not a reason to revert back to sheltering at home, but it is a reason to get your COVID-19booster and your flu shot. Now, I just praised older Americans for their wise choice of getting vaccinated to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. We were, by far, the most vaccinated age group and it saved many of our lives, but it seems that now we have lost our focus. The number of seniors getting the latest booster is down and we have also been slow in getting our flu shot. As a result, deaths in our age group from these infections are rising. We need to, excuse the expression, wise up!

While there as been much discussion about the latest booster and who really needs to get it but there is one thing that has remained constant, Americans 65 and older need to get the latest booster. Our age group is the most vulnerable and it has been shown that this booster saves lives of those who are more vulnerable. Experts have all agreed that for our age group the booster will lower the severity of COVID if we catch it and it will save lives. The same goes for flu, catching the flu puts a strain on our entire system and exacerbates any other health problems we have. RSV is especially serious for those who have any type of respiratory problems. An early diagnosis of RSV enables the application of various solutions that can ease the impact. Your doctor can quickly diagnosis if you have RSV rather than just a cold.

My plea is – get your COVID-19 booster and your flu shot. You can get them together if you’d like. I got my booster in early October and then my flu shot early in November. I thought it was better to get the benefits of the highest immunity of the flu shot closer to the flu “season”. Remember, the vaccinations won’t cost you anything and are easy to get. I walked into a local pharmacy, got my vaccination without an appointment and was out in 10 minutes. There is no reason for wise people not to get these shots. One other thing to consider, if you are vaccinated there is a much lower chance of you infecting your loved ones as you visit them this holiday season and there will be a much lower chance of you missing out on these family events because of COVID-19 or the flu.

Now is the time to turn off all the white noise that is circulating concerning the latest booster and even flu shots. The vaccines for COVID-19 have proven to be safe and effective, they have shown to greatly reduce the diseases’ severity if you catch the virus. The flu vaccine has been around for years and has shown to greatly reduce the chances of getting the flu. Even before the pandemic, only a little over half of our age group got their flu shot. We should be working to raise these numbers rather than continuing this alarming trend of even less of us getting our flu shot.

A wise old man once told me, “Get your shots, numbskull”, and I concur.

Best, Thair

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