March 6, 2024

Contagious Chronicles: Updates on COVID-19, RSV and More

Should older adults roll up their sleeves for another COVID-19 vaccine this spring? Join National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) Executive Director and CEO Marla Dalton, PE, CAE, for Contagious Chronicles featuring trusted NFID experts. In the inaugural episode, NFID Medical Director Robert H. Hopkins Jr., MD, and William Schaffner, MD, NFID spokesperson, answer that question and more as they discuss new COVID-19 vaccine recommendations for older adults and other updates from the February 2024 meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). 

Key highlights:

  • COVID-19 Vaccine Recommendations: CDC now recommends that US adults age 65 years and older receive an additional dose of the updated COVID-19 vaccine in the spring. This recommendation is due to the waning immunity over time and the continued threat of new variants. The goal is to protect the vulnerable older population from severe illness and death.
  • Reasons for Changing Recommendations: The recommendations for COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines are constantly evolving as we learn more about the diseases and vaccines to prevent them. It is important to maintain transparency and communication about these changes.
  • RSV Vaccines: There were safety signals for RSV vaccines, with a few cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome reported per million doses. The risk of severe RSV disease increases with age, especially for those with chronic medical conditions. Vaccination recommendations will be based on shared decision-making between patients and healthcare professionals.
  • Timing of Vaccination: For COVID-19, high-risk individuals should get vaccinated now, and those who have been vaccinated previously should get a booster if 4 months have elapsed. For RSV, vaccination is recommended in the fall along with flu vaccination.
  • Vaccine Recommendations: Recommendations can be “should” (everyone in the population group should get the vaccine) or “may” (a shared decision should be made between the patient and healthcare professional based on individual risk factors).
  • Other Updates: Discussions included new vaccines for diseases like chikungunya, a novel oral polio vaccine for outbreak settings, and different vaccination strategies for certain populations, as well as concerns about measles outbreaks in the US and Europe due to parents withholding measles vaccination for their children. Vaccination is crucial to prevent measles outbreaks. NFID experts emphasized the importance of vaccination and ongoing surveillance to protect against infectious diseases.