COVID-19, flu and RSV vaccines: What New Mexicans should know

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — As fall and winter virus season approaches, officials say there are three respiratory illnesses on the radar.

That means three vaccines doctors say you need to get – but when should you get them?

Right now, there are at least 600 flu cases in the Albuquerque metro alone. That, essentially, means we’re in flu season now.

With a new COVID variant spreading and RSV putting more people in the hospital, doctors say now is the time to get vaccinated.

“Fewer people were vaccinated over the last few years. And it’s more important actually to have that flu shot early to protect you against the flu,” said Dr. Vesta Sandoval, the CMO with Lovelace Medical Center.

For the first time, an RSV vaccine is available for people over the age of 60. The FDA also approved a COVID booster with an updated formula to target the new strain. That should be rolling out by next week.

Can you take these shots at the same time, though?

“You certainly can combine shots,” Dr. Sandoval said.

If you’re over the age of 65, you’re considered to have a risk factor for flu. If you’re in that demographic, there is a specific flu shot you need.

“They should get the quadrivalent higher dose flu shot if possible,” Dr. Sandoval said.

According to Sandoval, New Mexico has historically been behind in getting vaccinated. One study shows the state ranks 18th in the nation for vaccinating children – and 29th for adults.

“We really need to focus and try and vaccinate as many people as we potentially can,” Sandoval said.

In turn, doctors believe this will ease the strain on hospitals.

“That will help prevent hospitalization. As much as, I would say, 26% of people could have a lower risk for hospitalization,” Sandoval said.