WORCESTER, Mass. - As holiday season approaches, health experts are once again warning of an expected rise in flu, COVID-19 and RSV cases.
Dr. Robert Klugman, internal medicine specialist for UMass Memorial Health, said people should consider getting up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations, particularly if they're over the age of 65 or immunocompromised.
He mentioned there is a nationwide shortage of RSV vaccines, so they’re being prioritized for infants and the elderly.
Last year, COVID-19 cases steadily rose from late November through early January, and Klugman said he wouldn’t be surprised if a similar scenario played out 2023 comes to a close.
“If you fall into these categories of any risk, you really should consider getting a new shot to protect you from these new variants, which can eat through your immunity from either acquired infections or shots,” Klugman said.
But, in recent months, the uptake has been very low for new COVID-19 vaccinations compared to the initial rollout in 2021.
“A small percentage of people have gotten this new COVID shot, and we’d love to see more people at high risk get it,” Klugman said. “Death rates are on the rise, hospitalizations are on the rise, COVID is on the rise again. And as we enter this winter surge, so are flu and RSV, they’re about to spike big time.”
The CDC recommends getting the 2023-2024 updated COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer, Moderna or Novavax.
Everyone 5 and older should get one dose of an updated vaccine, and children ages 6 months to 4 years need multiple doses to be up to date.