Vaccines and viruses once again making a grand appearance

A dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is worked on during a vaccine clinic at the Edinburg Activity Center on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022, in Pharr. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])
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HARLINGEN — Get the shot!

I got the shot!

In this Brave New World of mutated — and mutating — viruses, health professionals throughout the Rio Grande Valley, across the United States and around the world love hearing these words.

The COVID-19 has largely been harnessed to manageable levels, but new strains of the coronavirus make seasonal vaccines necessary to treat those strains. This has long been the practice for the common flu virus, and society has now accepted this as the new reality for COVID-19.

The winter season and its cooler temperatures have placed the Valley in the midst of the flu and cold season — basically the season of being sick as well as celebrating the New Year.

“Over the last several weeks, we have seen an increase in the cases of influenza-like illness,” said Dr. Jose Campo Maldonado, director of antibiotic stewardship at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen and associate professor at the University of Texas RGV School of Medicine.

“I’m going to say this is different to what we were seeing during the pandemic,” Maldonado continued, “because when people were isolating and staying at home, of course the transmission of all viruses including influenza and other respiratory viruses decreased.”

These COVID-19 procedures — the mask, the distance — have become the standard practice for anyone with a viral infection to keep from infecting others and reducing the overal transmission.

“Someone is sick, you keep your distance, you wear a mask when you are sick,” Maldonado said. “You also protect others when you wear a mask. If you are going to be close to someone who is sick, keeping your distance and washing your hands can prevent the transmission in general, the viral respiratory infections.”

People sick with any viruses or bacterial infections should especially avoid contact with the elderly, young children and those with comorbidities such as obesity and diabetes.

Healthcare workers prepare vaccines for children under 5 and others against COVID-19 at the Edinburg Activity Center on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Edinburg. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

More viruses and more vaccines keep introducing themselves to the world. Maldonado said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommend that people receive the new RSV vaccine that was approved last year.

RSV, the CDC says, stands for respiratory syncytial virus. It’s a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. However, it can be dangerous for babies, toddlers and older adults.

“This year, CDC has recommended three new immunizations to protect those most at risk of severe RSV,” the CDC said in a statement posted in September.

“With these immunizations against RSV, we have an amazing opportunity to save lives and keep babies, toddlers and older adults out of hospitals,” the CDC said in September.

Maldonado emphasized the importance of this vaccine.

“That was approved just last year,” he said. “Not everybody knows about it, so it’s something that people should be aware of and discuss with their doctors if they can.”

As always, a strong immune system is the best defense against any disease, and that comes with a healthy lifestyle which includes a healthy diet and regular exercise.