June 12, 2024

Senior News Line: Preparing for another winter

This electron microscope image provided by the National Institutes of Health shows human respiratory syncytial virus virions, colorized blue, and anti-RSV F protein/gold antibodies, colorized yellow, shedding from the surface of human lung cells. Americans 60 and older can get a new RSV vaccine, but should discuss it with their doctor first, U.S. health officials recommend.

Winter isn’t even close, and already we’re seeing an increase in illnesses. They’re calling it a “tripledemic,” and it includes the regular flu, respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, and our enemy COVID.

Instead of the cold driving us indoors — and around others who can pass along an illness to us — we’ve been pushed indoors by the heat as we seek cooler temperatures.

The flu by itself always hits seniors hard. RSV does, as well. There are vaccines for both, with the one for RSV being approved in May.

Unfortunately, people with RSV can pass the virus to others in the first few days when they don’t know they’re ill and then stay contagious for three to eight days.

And now we have a new variant of COVID, a subvariant of XBB, which was a variant of omicron, which they’ve labeled EG.5 — and nicknamed “Eris” on social media. It’s becoming the dominant strain.

While there is no specific booster for it, the new booster that is being made for last year’s variant is said to have enough overlap to protect from the new EG.5 — when it’s finished being manufactured.

The estimate at this point is that it will be available in October. That means we’ll be offered three shots, at different times.

Some suggestions to get through the winter:

• Check your stock of masks. If you need more, order them now, before others clear the available stock.

• Check your supply of antibacterial hand soap and get more if you need to. Stock up on sanitizing wipes, as well, for countertops and doorknobs.

• Call your doctor and ask if you should have one, two or three of the available shots and make appointments to get those.

• And don’t forget to plan for fun over the winter. New books, hobby supplies, games, new recipes, different senior workout videos on YouTube, online language classes and so forth.

We can do this!

Matilda Charles

© 2024 King Features Synd., Inc.