Letter: Triple Threat

The story in your Nov. 25 issue, Officials Warn of Triple Threat, referring to RSV, COVID-19 and flu, was timely as we enter the heart of the holiday season with an abundance of indoor gatherings.

As nurse Kathleen Percacciolo noted: “The good news is that there are a number of things we can do to protect ourselves and our families.” The standout protection is the flu vaccine and the bivalent COVID booster. (There is no RSV vaccine.) It takes only about two weeks for both to take full effect. Even if you are vaccinated, you can become infected, but both vaccines are incredibly good in preventing more serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and death.

Unfortunately, many people in Putnam and Dutchess counties believe they are protected from COVID because they are “fully” vaccinated. But that just means you have received the two primary doses. Most of your protection no longer exists because you probably had those shots in 2021 and the immune response is mostly gone within six months.

You may be “fully vaccinated” but not “up-to-date.” This misleading terminology should be eliminated. The main thing that counts for COVID protection is being up to date, i.e., primary doses plus the most current booster. That means getting a bivalent booster that targets the earlier strains of the virus and the more recent Omicron.

In Putnam, 76 percent of the population is fully vaccinated but only 15.8 percent of those eligible for boosters are up-to-date, and in Dutchess, 71.5 percent are fully vaccinated and only 17.5 percent of those eligible are up-to-date.

Clearly, we are in a better place than we were last year at this time as COVID hospitalizations and deaths have leveled considerably. But 300 to 400 Americans still die from COVID every day.

Alan Brownstein, Cold Spring

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