LNP/LancasterOnline. October 11, 2023

Editorial: Help to stave off another ‘tripledemic’ by getting vaccinated against COVID-19, the flu and, if you’re 60 or older, RSV

If only vaccines had marketers like those hawking pumpkin spice products. Getting vaccinated against the flu and COVID-19 would lead every list of “top 10 things to do in the autumn.”

We were hoping that the COVID-19 vaccine’s recent brush with Taylor Swift World — via her reported new boyfriend and NFL star Travis Kelce — might advance the cause of vaccination.

Kelce, a tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs (and the lesser of the two NFL Kelce brothers, in our view), recently did a TV commercial for Pfizer informing people that they can get their updated COVID-19 vaccine at the same time they get their flu shot.

He was mocked for this as “Mr. Pfizer” by woo-woo enthusiast and New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who’s been grounded by an Achilles injury.

Kelce was unfazed, telling the media that he got the COVID-19 vaccine to keep himself, as well as his family and the people he works with, safe from illness. “I stand by it 1,000%,” he said.

We appreciate this boost from the brother of Philadelphia Eagle Jason Kelce. But, as with all things health-related, we urge people to heed medical experts such as Lancaster General Health’s Dr. Patel.

As Patel noted, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month approved new monovalent messenger RNA vaccines for COVID-19, “and subsequently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made an official recommendation to give these vaccines to anyone 6 months and older. Based on data, the updated vaccines are effective against the current circulating variants, including those that are most concerning to the CDC, which has seen a significant increase in the number of mutations and the potential to create a new wave of infections.”

We know there are some people who dismiss the need for COVID-19 vaccines. They shouldn’t.

“Getting an updated COVID-19 vaccine provides robust immune response and protection from the new variants that are circulating currently,” Patel wrote. “Vaccine-induced immunity ismore effective and safer than developing immunity from infection.”

The italics are ours, because this is a critical point. Just because you survived a COVID-19 infection in the past doesn’t mean you’re sufficiently protected against a future infection. COVID-19 is a wily virus, which is why it remains a health threat nearly four years after we first learned of its existence.

Getting an updated COVID-19 vaccine will reduce the chances of hospitalization and death if you do become infected. And obviously, staying out of the hospital should be everyone’s aim, for one’s own sake as well as for our community’s sake. When respiratory infections ramp up, hospital workers bear the brunt of the burden of care. Which is why we all should want to prevent another “tripledemic” of COVID-19, flu and RSV this year.

So ask your physician or pharmacist — as soon as possible — about getting vaccinated against the flu as well as COVID-19.

Even in mild forms, the flu is a miserable illness, often causing symptoms such as muscle and body aches, sore throat, fever, fatigue and cough. Why subject yourself — or your kids — to that misery when a flu shot can safely keep it at bay?

RSV, the third illness in the “tripledemic” triangle, is a common respiratory virus that usually causes cold-like symptoms. According to the CDC, “Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious. Infants and older adults are more likely to develop severe RSV and need hospitalization.”

Fortunately, as Patel pointed out, there are two new RSV vaccines for people 60 years and older. Data from vaccine trials shows that the vaccines are “moderately effective in preventing serious RSV infection and reducing the risk of hospitalization and death,” the infectious disease expert wrote Sunday. “It is recommended to get vaccinated prior to the RSV season, which is now.”

If it seems like an onerous task to schedule multiple vaccinations, don’t fret. These vaccines can be given at the same time, Patel wrote. But “you should wait at least eight weeks after your last COVID-19 vaccine before getting the updated monovalent COVID-19 vaccine.”

As Patel put it, “We can all contribute to preventing another ‘tripledemic’ by getting vaccinated.”

Please consider doing this. And then maybe treat yourself to a pumpkin spice coffee or cookie afterward. It’s autumn, after all.


Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. October 14, 2023

Editorial: This is no time to move up the 2024 Pennsylvania presidential primary. But what about for 2028?

Despite Pennsylvania’s recurring importance in picking the president in the general election, the state falls considerably short when it comes to deciding the nominees.

Joe Biden became the presumptive 2020 Democratic nominee in April — about two weeks before the Pennsylvania primary was scheduled. The primary had been moved up a month to allow voters a better shot at meaningful participation, but the covid-19 pandemic interfered, and the primary took place in June.

Donald Trump became the 2016 Republican nominee about a week after the Pennsylvania primary, but that was largely semantic. Of 56 primaries and caucuses in U.S. states and territories that year, Trump won 41. Hillary Clinton didn’t secure her Democratic slot until June 2016.

The state has made nods to this over the years. While off-year primaries take place in mid-May, presidential primaries are moved up to April in an effort to be part of the conversation.

In 2024, however, the move to April 23 has a second problem. It will put people going to the polls during Passover, which some — including Gov. Josh Shapiro — worry could depress participation. That has prompted questions about moving the primary even earlier. The House of Representatives would like April 2; the state Senate would prefer March 19.

But the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania said in a letter to lawmakers and the governor that it just won’t work.

“While we thank the General Assembly and the administration for their thoughtful discussions around this matter, at this date counties can no longer guarantee there will be sufficient time to make the changes necessary to assure a primary on a different date would be successful,” Executive Director Lisa Schaefer wrote.

This is an all-too-common issue with government. Enthusiasm for an idea has to be balanced with the ability to implement it — or the wherewithal to overcome those limitations.

The state might make the decisions about when an election is held and set certain rules about it, but making it happen falls to the counties.

That is not to say Pennsylvania shouldn’t consider moving primaries to early April, March or even earlier. But this isn’t a decision to make in late 2023 for 2024. It’s a decision to think about now regarding 2028. Passover will be April 10-18 that year, so it will only be a factor if the primary is moved up without adequate consideration. The desire to be more active in the presidential nominating process will still be on the table.

Changes need to happen thoughtfully, proactively and with enough time to see them implemented without an undue burden on the counties.



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