October 26, 2022 HEALTH UPDATE
We are now in cold, flu and respiratory illness season. Traditionally this usually starts later in the year, yet this year we are already seeing influenza (flu) cases at a much higher rate than usual. In addition, Covid is still around and while case reports are not a completely reliable way of assessing activity nowadays there is an increase in the number of Covid cases being reported nationwide. Finally, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is at record levels in children causing increased hospitalizations. Adults can also get RSV yet the infection in adults is usually not as serious.
One theory why RSV is so prevalent this year is that with all the reduced social interaction and masking done to prevent Covid spread, children were not exposed to different viruses, and therefore have not been able to build up some natural immunities. In addition, no vaccine for RSV exists yet, so there is no way to build immunity that way.
While this theory may be applicable to children, it is not the case with adults, as adults have had decades of exposure to many different viruses and bacteria, and therefore will usually have some natural protection. You may still get a cold, yet you usually will not die from it. What made Covid19 different (and so contagious) was that there was almost no natural immunity since it was essentially a virus humanity had never seen.
With regards to infections, while natural immunity is important, preventing someone from getting the disease with a vaccine is much more important, since getting the disease puts one at risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from it. Vaccines are not always perfect, yet the ones recommended for influenza, pneumonia and Covid do help protect people.
So, for those of you who believe in getting vaccines, now is the time to get your flu shot, and for most of you the updated Covid booster as well. With regards to the Covid booster, if you had a Covid infection in the last 90 days then you should wait 90 days to get the new booster. We do have flu shots in our office.
The new pneumonia shot is a little bit different. There are two new Pneumonia vaccine formulations on the market, a 20-strain shot (called Prevnar 20) and a 15-strain shot.
Currently, we do not recommend either one of these new pneumonia shots for individuals who have already had both the Pneumovax (the original pneumonia shot with twenty-three strains) and the Prevnar13 vaccine.
We do recommend pneumonia shots for everyone over age 65 and for those who have underlying respiratory disease or other immunocompromising disease, and if you fall into one of these categories and never had a pneumonia shot, then you should get the Prevnar 20 vaccine only.
Be aware, the pneumonia shot only protects against Strep pneumo pneumonia which is the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia. You may still get pneumonia from other organisms. However, the death rate with a serious case of Strep pneumo pneumonia is over twenty percent in at risk and older individuals.
Finally, I will conclude with some office updates. First off, Signature MD does our concierge membership management, and they are transitioning to a new portal. Consequently, they will be contacting some of you to update your payment details. Be aware, this is a legitimate contact, yet if you have any worries feel free to double check with the office.
Secondly, Tucson is undergoing a significant shortage of physicians. Getting appointments with certain specialists is challenging, even when I do contact the specialist directly and ask for a timely appointment. Once we do the contact and referral, we have no control over how the other office will manage it. I know this has been frustrating for some patients yet unfortunately there is little we can do at that point. Obviously keeping our office appraised of the situation can allow us to politely make inquiries or try to send you to another specialist, yet that is the extent of our abilities at that point.
I will be out of the office Thursday Oct 27 and Friday Oct 28, yet the office will be open on those days. Take care and have a wonderful rest of the week.