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  • Writer's pictureEric Goulder, MD, FACC

Heart Talk - September 2023

Autumn is a Good Time to Review and Update Your Vaccines

We all love fall, with the return of routine, cozy seasonal meals and pumpkin spice everything! But along with the fun parts of the change in seasons, the return of fall also beckons the inevitable return of colds, coughs, and other upper respiratory infections. This month, we thought it would be timely to review the current guidelines for adult vaccination for the purpose of protecting vulnerable populations, protecting oneself against disease and from the cardiovascular and neurologic consequences of contracting common vaccine preventable illnesses.

The new kid on the block this year is the RSV vaccine. Unlike the vaccines we all have on our yearly “to-do list,” like the flu shot and more recently, COVID, the RSV vaccine is recommended only for a select portion of the adult population. RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) is well known for its dangerous effects on the respiratory system of young children. However, the risk to a vulnerable adult population is lesser known. Adults over the age of 65 are at increased risk for dangerous complications after contracting RSV, including an exacerbation of underlying pathologies such as cardiovascular disease. At this time, there is no specific cure for RSV, and treatment is supportive in nature, which unfortunately results in thousands of deaths in older adults each year.

Thankfully, a single dose vaccine is now available that offers greater than 80% protection from the complications associated with RSV. The vaccine is not indicated for everyone — so who should be lining up to roll up their sleeves?

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