Santa Barbara Doctors ExtraCare – September 2021 Newsletter
September 2021 ExtraCare
As the temperatures start to cool down, the kids head back to school and the days continue to get shorter it is a clear sign that flu season is just around the corner.
We are happy to announce that our flu shots have arrived!
As we all anxiously await the FDA approval of COVID-19 boosters, we suggest that you call the office to schedule your flu shot ASAP.
Ready or Not…It’s Time for Your Seasonal Flu Shot!
By Dr. Sawyer Haig
Fever? Chills? Coughing? Sore throat? Runny or stuffy nose? Headache? Body aches? Chills? Fatigue? Vomiting? Diarrhea? Is it influenza (seasonal flu) or COVID-19?
Wouldn’t it be better to stay healthy and not to have to wonder? Our strong recommendation is that you become vaccinated against COVID-19 AND the seasonal flu as soon as possible. A flu vaccine is especially critical for those at high risk for complications of influenza:
●Those ≥65 years of age
●Women who are pregnant or postpartum (within two weeks after delivery)
●Residents of long-term care facilities
●Native Americans and Alaska Natives
●Those with extreme obesity (body mass index [BMI] ≥40)
●Individuals with certain chronic medical conditions (e.g. immunocompromising condition, chronic lung disease, chronic heart disease, chronic kidney disease)
●Those receiving glucocorticoids or other immunosuppressive medications
I already got my COVID-19 Vaccine…do I really need to go to the trouble of getting a flu vaccine too? YES! You do not want to get the flu…it can be quite debilitating, and complications can be severe. Studies have shown that all-cause mortality is significantly lower in vaccinated individuals compared to those who are unvaccinated. In addition, staying healthy will keep you out of the hospital limiting the impact on the healthcare system during the ongoing pandemic. Are there complications of combining a breakthrough COVID infection with the seasonal flu? This is still unknown, but it would be in your best interest to avoid being part of this real-time experiment.
There are a variety of vaccine options for everyone six-months-old and older, and the CDC recommends all licensed, age-appropriate vaccines equally. Certain vaccines are approved and recommended for those 65 and older as they produce a stronger immune response. Some vaccines include the use of eggs in the creation of the vaccine, and those with an egg allergy should talk with their doctor about precautions that can be taken. If you have had a severe allergic reaction to the flu shot in the past, talk to your health care provider before receiving the shot.
Severe side effects of flu-vaccines are very rare. For a very small number of people, a disease called Guillain-Barre syndrome could be associated with flu shots. But the risk is far less than the risk of having a severe complication from the flu itself.
Some soreness, redness, and/or swelling may occur at the site of the injection. A mild headache, fever, nausea, muscle aches, and fatigue may also occur and last several days. The benefits of receiving a flu shot far outweigh these mild possible side effects.
The effectiveness of flu vaccines varies based on the match between the vaccine and the type of flu viruses that are circulating, and the health and age of the vaccine recipient.
Sometimes people still become ill during flu season despite receiving the flu vaccine. They could still catch the common cold for example, and experience flu-like symptoms. Others were exposed to the flu before the benefits of their vaccine took full effect (two weeks after the injection). Sometimes flu viruses circulate that are not those protected by the seasonal vaccine. Research cited by the CDC suggests that those people who do get a breakthrough infection of the flu despite being vaccinated tend to experience a less severe illness than those who are unvaccinated. Those who are vaccinated are less likely to be hospitalized, admitted to the intensive care unit, or die than those who are not vaccinated.
Sound familiar? Vaccinations, be they for flu or COVID-19, cannot prevent infection at all times for all people. However, you are far more likely to remain healthy and free from severe illness when vaccinated.
CDC Seasonal Flu Shot Information https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/flushot.htm
Santa Barbara County Seasonal Flu Shot Information https://www.countyofsb.org/uploadedFiles/phd/PROGRAMS/Immunization/Flu%20Vaccine%20Resources(1).pdf
COVID-19 Antibody Levels as a Predictor of Vaccine Efficacy
By Dr. Barbara Hrach
The original moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccine efficacy trial results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in December 2020. In this study, which enrolled over 30,000 individuals, they showed that the vaccine was 94% effective in preventing severe COVID-19 illness and was the basis for the FDA granting EUA approval for use of the vaccine.
When enrolling in this trial, these participants agreed to have both spike protein and neutralizing antibody blood testing done at day 1, day 29 and day 57 post injection. These study participants continued to be monitored for a total of six months after vaccination and these data are the basis for these recent results.
This study was first brought to my attention after being cited by Dr. Anthony Fauci as a basis for recommending that the FDA/CDC consider mRNA vaccine boosters to the general public. I wanted to share it with you because it reinforces our previous and ongoing practice of monitoring for the presence of spike protein COVID-19 antibodies to determine your individual need for vaccine booster shots.
In the study, investigators showed that there was an inverse relationship between both spike protein and neutralizing antibody levels and subsequent COVID-19 infection. They showed that higher antibody titers conferred increased protection against infection from SARS COV2 virus. In fact, the participants who had undetectable antibody levels at day 57 were only 50% protected against subsequent COVID-19 infection.
A couple of things to keep in mind:
- This study looked at the presence of infection, not severity of infection. It is known that vaccination significantly reduces ones risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 infection.
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