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Healthcare experts encourage vaccines to avoid another 'tripledemic'

Updated flu vaccines are now available with more protection on the way.

ATLANTA — The Georgia Department of Public Health said a few cases of the flu are appearing in the state as health care experts worry about another “tripledemic.”

Flu vaccines are now available with an updated COVID booster on the way. RSV is another concern and there is brand new protection for that as well.

At Due West Pharmacy in Marietta, 87-year-old Fred Huff rolled up his sleeve for a flu vaccine. So far, he has dodged every virus you can imagine.

“I haven’t had COVID and I haven’t had a flu in 10 or 12 years,” said Huff. “Probably the flu shots have helped.”

Dr. Jonathan Marquess owns Due West Pharmacy as well as several others in metro-Atlanta. He said demand for flu shots seems to be higher than it’s been in recent years. He recommends that anyone over age 65 should get a high-dose vaccine.

“Once you hit that age of 65 it puts you at a high risk,” said Dr. Marquess. “We know people who are perfectly healthy but once they hit 65, they need that different flu vaccine.”

The updated flu vaccine is designed to protect from the four strains expected to circulate.

Dr. Cherie Drenzek of the Georgia Department of Public Health sad the vaccine has been effective in the southern hemisphere where the flu has been circulating since April.

“Their vaccine reduced flu hospitalizations by about 52%,” said Dr. Drenzek. “So those indicators are positive that the flu vaccine that we have this year may behave in a very similar fashion in the sense that it’s a good match for what will circulate.”

The FDA has approved two vaccines to protect against RSV or Respiratory Syncytial Virus. One is for adults over 60 and is available now. The other for pregnant women should be available soon.

While there aren’t any vaccines for young children there is a monoclonal antibody that should be available in the next few weeks.

“Last year we had a very unusual, early RSV season and also a very severe one, so it’s great news to have these new products available for our RSV season this year,” Dr. Drenzek added.

Then there’s the updated COVID booster. The CDC is recommending the shot for anyone 6-months and older. They should be available in the coming days.

With one shot already in his arm, Fred Huff is eager to roll up his sleeve again.

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