We’ve just passed the halfway mark of the first of the “-ber” months for 2022. We’re entering the third week of the NFL, pumpkins are appearing more and more, and foliage is beginning to change colors. And with all of these changes, we welcome the dreaded flu season.

But 2020 and 2021 weren’t so bad, you say? In a report published last week by AARP, Andrew Pekosz, a virologist and professor of microbiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, said that we should not expect the respite to last.

“All signs predict influenza will be back this year,” he said

The previous two years provided mild flu seasons because of the numerous precautions in place due to COVID-19, such as face masks, social distancing, increased use of hand sanitizer and decreased travel.

“Now that people are out and about without masks, traveling extensively, and once again having vacations, going to restaurants and religious services, and back to school and to the office, there are more opportunities for the virus to circulate,” said William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and a professor of infectious diseases at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

There are six flu vaccines available for 2022, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some are available for those ages 2 to 49, while others are for those 65 and older. Talking to your doctor or health care professional can help determine which vaccine to get. The first step, though, according to the CDC, is simply making the decision to get the vaccine.

“Everyone 6 months and older in the United States should get an influenza vaccine every season with rare exception,” CDC officials said on their website.

Most flu shots are free for those with insurance or at discounted rates for those without insurance. Some colleges offer vaccines free to students, and many employers do the same for workers. Most pharmacies are offering walk-in clinics or scheduling appointments.

Also available at local pharmacies are updated COVID-19 boosters from Pfizer (for anyone age 12 and older) and Moderna (for anyone age 18 and older) to help restore protection against the more transmissible and immune-evading omicron strain.

White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha told The Associated Press the latest round of shots would offer protection during the busy cold and flu season, with the hope of transitioning people to get the booster every year.

“We expect them to provide more durable protection over time,” Jha said in an interview Wednesday. “The goal very much is to get to a point where people get their COVID shot on a regular basis, the way they do their flu shot.”

Those who have gotten both shots in the same appointment report mosly mild side effects. Muscle aches , fatigue, maybe a headache.

Both the COVID-19 and flu vaccines have a proven record of keeping people healthy. Make 2022 the year you add the COVID-19 booster to your annual fall to-do list.

Kokomo (Indiana) Tribune

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