By Dr. Jerry Abraham

Thanksgiving is next week, and Christmas is around the corner. The holiday season has officially arrived. Now that the updated booster authorized for individuals as young as five, we’re even closer to ensuring the whole family is protected during fall and winter when the spread of respiratory viruses is at its peak.

The booster has been updated to strengthen protection against the original coronavirus strain while also targeting the dominant Omicron subvariants that have recently spread widely and continue to infect many. We all need to get boosted, and there are groups we need to ensure are protected – children five years and older, older adults and those most at risk for serious infection.

As for our older adults, your risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 goes up as you age, and COVID-19 booster doses can help lower the risk of severe illness, long-term effects, hospitalization and death. This means less strain on our hospitals, less risk to our most vulnerable populations and less worry for you and your loved ones this holiday season. .

recent study found that overall life expectancy for Californians decreased by three years and noted higher-than-average decreases in life expectancy for Hispanic and Black Californians due to their exposure to higher COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and death rates. That’s why older adults are encouraged to prioritize vaccination to stay safer from severe outcomes and achieve your highest level of health and well-being.

And for parents, I know many of you are feeling fear and uncertainty around getting your children vaccinated and boosted because you want to be sure you make the best choice for your children’s health and futures. Misinformation that is largely spread online and on social media amplifies apprehension and confusion about vaccines. 

But the facts speak for themselves: vaccines and boosters have undeniable benefits. These tools are what is best for your children as we continue to fight against COVID-19. To prevent severe outcomes, including long COVID, I strongly recommend all parents consider getting their children vaccinated and boosted. If you remain uncertain, don’t hesitate to speak with your child’s doctor and get the facts from someone you trust.

Everyone five and older is eligible to get the updated booster at least two months following their last dose, whether that was their primary series or following a booster dose. Getting vaccinated and boosted lowers the risk of contracting spreading and getting severely ill from COVID-19.

The updated boosters will help children’s and older adults’ immune systems fight off a wider variety of variants that we most likely will see during the flu season. The booster is similar to flu vaccines, where the components of the flu vaccine are updated to help protect against the specific flu viruses circulating that year. Similarly, COVID-19 boosters are updated to protect us against the newest variants of COVID-19.

If you are under-vaccinated or unvaccinated, the risk of complications and death increases. Get vaccinated and boosted to protect older loved ones, young children, immunocompromised friends, family and neighbors.

Wearing a mask in public indoor spaces also helps slow the spread of many different respiratory viruses including RSV, flu and COVID-19. Everyday preventative actions like staying home when you feel sick, frequent handwashing, covering your cough, avoiding close contact with sick people, wearing a mask in public indoor spaces and getting vaccinated or boosted can help protect you and your family, especially as we head into the colder months.

To schedule an appointment for a vaccination or a booster, visit MyTurn.ca.gov.

Dr. Jerry P Abraham is the Director of Kedren Vaccines in South Los Angeles and serves as the Assistant Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles Academy of Family Physicians, Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Medical Association, Trustee of the California Medical Association, and Councilor on Constitution & Bylaws for our American Medical Association. Dr. Abraham is Family & Community Medicine Physician, Global Injury Epidemiologist, and Medical Quality Specialist.