Fall and winter are the times of the year when respiratory diseases are most heavily circulating. While the exact timing of flu and RSV season varies from year to year, these diseases typically become more prominent around October and peak between December and February. These respiratory diseases are easy to catch and can cause serious complications for those at a higher risk. Here’s everything you need to know about the flu and RSV diseases as well as how you can protect yourself and others through flu and RSV shots.
What Is the Flu?
The flu is caused by the influenza virus. This virus spreads easily during the colder fall and winter months when people spend more time together indoors. The influenza virus rapidly changes and has many strains, making it difficult for your immune system to recognize it and fight the viral infection. The flu is a respiratory disease, which means it attacks your lungs, nose, and throat. The most common symptoms of the flu include fever, chills, fatigue, body aches, headaches, cough, sore throat, and stuffy or runny nose. Children may experience diarrhea or vomiting as symptoms of the flu. Older adults, young children, pregnant women, and those with chronic diseases or weakened immune systems are at a high risk of developing dangerous complications from the flu.
What Is RSV?
RSV stands for respiratory syncytial virus. This virus is highly contagious and can infect both children and adults. RSV can be spread through coughing, sneezing, or touching an object that has the virus on it. This is a respiratory disease, so symptoms of RSV are usually experienced in the lungs, nose, and throat. Some of the most common symptoms of RSV are cough, fever, runny nose, wheezing, trouble breathing, and trouble swallowing. In adults and older children, this disease is often fairly mild and may feel like the common cold. For infants, young children, and older adults, the symptoms can be more severe. These at-risk groups are more likely to experience complications and may have more trouble breathing when suffering from RSV.
What Are Flu and RSV Shots?
Flu and RSV shots have been developed to help protect against these highly contagious respiratory diseases. Flu shots, or influenza vaccines, are developed twice a year because the virus changes so rapidly. While flu shot effectiveness can vary from year to year, these shots typically provide modest to high levels of protection against the virus. This year, the FDA has approved the first RSV shots to help protect against this respiratory virus as well. These RSV shots are currently recommended for older adults and pregnant women who are most at risk of developing complications from the disease. Both flu and RSV shots can protect you from experiencing dangerous symptoms from these diseases and can also help prevent the spread of these viruses to your loved ones.
Who Should Get Flu and RSV Shots?
Annual flu shots are recommended for everyone aged 6 months and older. However, it’s especially important for people who are at a higher risk, such as the elderly and those with weak immune systems, to get the flu vaccine to protect themselves from developing serious complications. RSV shots, on the other hand, are not currently available for all ages, but they are available and recommended for adults aged 60 years and older. This population is most at risk if infected with RSV. It is also recommended that pregnant women get RSV shots to protect their newborns. For infants, there is a different option. The FDA has approved monoclonal antibody therapy that can protect infants and toddlers from the disease, and it’s recommended that all infants younger than 8 months receive this antibody therapy prior to the start of RSV season.
Ask Your Local Pharmacy About Flu and RSV Shots
It’s important to get flu and RSV shots before the start of flu and RSV season for the highest level of protection against these diseases. Here at Springfield Pharmacy, we want to help you stay healthy by providing these vaccines as well as other health services. If you are interested in getting a flu or RSV shot and would like to learn more about them, please reach out or stop by to speak to one of our expert pharmacists or schedule a vaccine appointment online!