44. NFID Medical Director William Schaffner, MD Shares Vital Vaccine Info

Published January 12, 2022

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Show Notes

The CDC has recommended COVID-19 boosters for many Americans and has also approved co-administration of COVID-19 vaccines with other vaccines. Though many Americans have received their COVID-19 boosters and their flu shots this Winter, there are many questions about co-administration and vaccine hesitancy remains. Here to answer some common questions about co-administration, dispel myths, and share tips to keep older adults protected against all vaccine-preventable diseases is National Foundation for Infectious Diseases’ Medical Director, Dr. William Schaffner.

Episode Transcript

Lindsay Clarke:
Hi, everyone, and welcome to This is Growing Old, the podcast all about the common human experience of aging.

Lindsay Clarke:
My name is Lindsay Clarke, and I’m the Vice President of Health Education and Advocacy at the Alliance for Aging Research.

Lindsay Clarke:
The CDC has recommended COVID-19 boosters for many Americans and has also approved co-administration of COVID-19 vaccines with other vaccines. Though many Americans have received their COVID-19 boosters and their flu shots this winter, there are many questions about co-administration, and vaccine hesitancy remains.

Lindsay Clarke:
Here to answer some common questions about co-administration, dispel myths, and share tips to keep older adults protected against all vaccine-preventable diseases, is National Foundation for Infectious Diseases Medical Director, Dr. William Schaffner.

Lindsay Clarke:
Dr. Schaffner, thank you so much for joining us today.

William Schaffner:
Good to be with you, Lindsay. Thank you. This is an important topic.

Lindsay Clarke:
It sure is, and there’s so many questions.

Lindsay Clarke:
Let’s get started with boosters. Why do people need a COVID-19 booster if they’ve already gotten vaccinated against COVID?

William Schaffner:
Well, it’s become really very apparent that with the occasion, the appearance of Omicron, and its widespread, that people are best protected against serious disease. By that, I mean, illness serious enough to require hospitalization, intensive care unit admission, and the risk of dying, in order to protect against those most serious diseases, you do need a booster.

William Schaffner:
With a booster, if you do happen to get infected, and, yes, Omicron can still infect you, but you’ll have a very mild illness, about the kind of illness you would get with a common cold, for example. Yes, you may even have to go to bed for a day or so, but that’s a lot better than needing to get into the hospital.

William Schaffner:
Think of boosters as really completing the vaccination series. If you’ve had that Moderna and Pfizer two doses, you need that booster, in order to finish up, and you’re eligible five months after you’ve received that second dose. If it’s longer, don’t worry about that. There’s no endpoint. You can get that booster any time after five months having completed your second dose.

Lindsay Clarke:
That’s great, and I know the CDC’s Advisory Council on Immunization Practices just approved those boosters for kiddos 12 to 17 years old.

Lindsay Clarke:
Can you talk more about this, and then tell us who should be getting a booster? It sounds like everybody, but if you could talk about the teenagers, as well.

William Schaffner:
Well, the teenagers now also are eligible, just as you said. The CDC’s ACIP Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices said just recently that everyone age 12 and older, if the appropriate time has elapsed, now five months, you are eligible and should receive a booster. That’s really very, very important.

William Schaffner:
Now, from age 12 to 130, if you’ve had those first two doses, and five months have gone by, get that booster just as quickly as possible. Vaccines are available everywhere. There’s no shortage of vaccine, but as a good friend of mine likes to say, “Vaccines never prevented disease, vaccination prevents disease.”

William Schaffner:
As I like to say, “Vaccine in the refrigerator never prevented a single infection yet.”

Lindsay Clarke:
That’s a great point. Well, so what about folks who’ve had a COVID-19 infection, do they still need a booster?

William Schaffner:
That’s one of the most common questions I’ve received, Lindsay. People say, “Look, isn’t this like measles? Once I’ve had measles, I don’t need the vaccine, because I’m protected.” This depends on the virus, and COVID is, I’m afraid, not as long-term protective as is measles. We anticipate that there will be waning protection after natural infection. The recommendation is, even if you’ve recovered from natural infection, please get vaccinated.

William Schaffner:
Let me tell you, that the people who have recovered from natural infection, this much antibody, after vaccination, they’ve had vastly more. That’s important. More antibody gives you protection for a longer period of time, and it also provides a greater variety of antibodies.

William Schaffner:
You are better protected against different variants, the old ones, and perhaps some new ones, that might go up. There’s no reason not to get vaccinated, even if you have recovered from the natural infection.

Lindsay Clarke:
That’s great to hear. Now, is there a waiting time?

Lindsay Clarke:
Let’s say someone’s recovered from COVID-19, and they have their booster scheduled for a few days down the road. Should they delay it, or do we need to have a pause time?

William Schaffner:
At the beginning, when all of this started, we knew less about the vaccines and how they worked, and there was a recommended waiting time, but there is no waiting time at the present.

William Schaffner:
Now, given that there are still lots of doctors who will say, “Let’s wait a little while, a week, two weeks, three weeks, a month. It varies, but I wouldn’t wait too long, because I would want you to have maximum protection just as quickly as possible.”

Lindsay Clarke:
I’m assuming, we’d also recommend that people have a negative test before they go out to get that vaccine, just to protect the people who are giving them their shot.

William Schaffner:
We’ve been thinking about testing in all of its different fashions. How can we use testing? You make a good point. You don’t want to infect people at the healthcare facility where you’re going. You might, indeed, get a test before you go ahead and get vaccinated once you’ve recovered.

William Schaffner:
There’s some tricky things about that. Let me just give you one example. We all know that the gold standard test is something called the PCR. We remember that that’s a big name for a swab test, right. Now, that test is so sensitive that even after we recover, that test can remain positive for weeks.

William Schaffner:
That doesn’t mean you have live virus. That does not mean you’re contagious. It just means that that very sensitive test can pick up remnants of the virus that are left in your body. Think of them as dead soldiers, right. This test can pick that up.

William Schaffner:
If you get that PCR test after you’ve recovered, that can create confusion, so just be careful about that. What the CDC says, from the start of your symptoms, after 10 days, if your symptoms have abated and you no longer have fever, you are virus-free. I actually like to use that rule of thumb rather than post-recovery testing.

Lindsay Clarke:
That is a great clarification. Thank you.

Lindsay Clarke:
What about the recent recommendations from CDC on the five days? Are you still sticking with the 10 days?

William Schaffner:
No, no, no. The CDC has new recommendations that say, if you’ve gotten infected, and five days have elapsed, and you no longer have fever, and your symptoms are getting better, you don’t have to be in isolation anymore. You can come out of isolation, as long as you wear the mask, but you do have to wear the mask for another five days.

William Schaffner:
I think that that is a reasonable thing to do. Your risk of transmitting infections to others, if you’re careful about wearing the mask, is really very, very low, and that allows people to get back into society and start functioning again.

William Schaffner:
The CDC is walking a tight rope here, right.

Lindsay Clarke:
Absolutely.

William Schaffner:
Trying to balance really good public health practice, with also, keeping us all functional out there in the world.

Lindsay Clarke:
Thank you. That really clarified it for me. I know there’s been a lot of questions about it and a lot of talk, so thank you for that really nice description.

Lindsay Clarke:
What about a flu vaccine? Why would someone need to get a flu vaccine if they’ve already gotten a COVID-19 vaccine?

William Schaffner:
I am so glad you’ve mentioned influenza vaccine, because we’ve been so understandably preoccupied with COVID, that we haven’t been able to think about other vaccines. Influenza, also. I’ve almost had to remind people about influenza. It’s waking up around the country already, and we are going to have an influenza season.

William Schaffner:
Remember, influenza is that other nasty respiratory virus that also can put people into the hospital, cause many illnesses, and, frankly, many deaths. Unfortunately, as with COVID, people who are older, are at greater risk of the complications of both of these viruses.

William Schaffner:
They’re separate viruses, so you have to get vaccinated against influenza, also. The recommendations, of course, are clear. If you’re older than six months, that’s everybody watching this podcast, you should get your influenza vaccine each and every year.

Lindsay Clarke:
I know that last year, we were talking about a feared twindemic of people getting the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, and also, overwhelming the healthcare system. It sounds like we’re starting to see that, people who are testing positive at the same time for both influenza and COVID-19.

Lindsay Clarke:
I’m assuming, that I certainly wouldn’t want to be fighting both at the same time. I’m assuming that can really increase complications.

William Schaffner:
Well, we need to get vaccinated against both COVID and influenza. You see, they’re quite separate viruses. They belong to different viral families. You can think of it that way. The COVID vaccine will not provide protection against flu, and the flu vaccine won’t provide protection against COVID.

William Schaffner:
This year, we’re going to have to roll up both sleeves, and get vaccinated against both viruses. Now, looking a little ahead to next year, we might need, not only an annual influenza vaccine, but an annual booster against COVID. That seems kind of reasonable, and may actually be likely.

William Schaffner:
You’ll be pleased to know, that the vaccine scientists are already working to get the influenza vaccine and the COVID vaccine together in one shot. Maybe next year, we will be able to get protection against both virus, but we’ll only have to roll up one sleeve. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Lindsay Clarke:
Well, I know my children would be thrilled, as would a lot of people. That’s exciting.

Lindsay Clarke:
Now, I know we’ve heard reports about people who are developing, or they’re at least testing positive for COVID-19 and flu at the same time. We worried about that last year. We spoke about the twindemic of both diseases.

Lindsay Clarke:
What is the concern with people getting both at the same time?

William Schaffner:
Well, first of all, both of these viruses will be out there in the same time, and that will, I think, provide a stress on our healthcare system. In addition to personal protection, that’s another reason for all of us to get vaccinated, to kind of protect our healthcare system.

William Schaffner:
When people have other illnesses such as heart attacks or anything else, they’ll be room in the hospital for those people. Going forward, it looks as though, there are early reports of people getting infected simultaneously, at the same time, with both COVID and flu, they tend to have rather severe infections.

William Schaffner:
Of course, I wouldn’t want a double infection, thank you very much. If anything, this emphasizes the importance of getting vaccinated against both viruses.

Lindsay Clarke:
Dr. Schaffner, what about folks who haven’t gotten their flu vaccine yet? I know that it’s generally recommended, we get it in September or October.

Lindsay Clarke:
Is it too late, if they haven’t done it yet?

William Schaffner:
It’s not too late. Here, we are in January, but I would urge people not to linger to get the vaccine. Influenza is picking up around the country. Traditionally, influenza peaks in the United States in February.

William Schaffner:
You see, there’s still time to get vaccinated. It does take about 10 days to two weeks for the body to build up maximum protection. As I say, if you haven’t been vaccinated against influenza, please don’t linger.

William Schaffner:
Now, let me say a word about influenza vaccine. The most common reason we have discovered that people are not so interested in getting influenza vaccine is they say, “You know it’s not a perfect vaccine. It doesn’t work all that well.” It is true, that we have to adjust the vaccine, depending upon which flu strains are circulating that year, and, sometimes, we may not be exactly in our predictions on target.

William Schaffner:
Nonetheless, influenza vaccine prevents many infections completely, and if you happen to get influenza vaccine followed by influenza, you’re much less likely to have severe disease. Your illness is much more likely to be mild. You won’t require hospitalization in all likelihood, and if you can avoid hospitalization and dying, what’s wrong with that?

Lindsay Clarke:
That’s an important reminder. I think, people are starting to understand that with the COVID-19 vaccines right now, that it’s not 100 percent, and you might still be infected, but it’s preventing serious illness and serious complications.

Lindsay Clarke:
I know from having had the flu in the past, that if that was a milder version than what I could have had without the vaccine, I was grateful.

William Schaffner:
Right, so Lindsay, I always like to invoke that old French philosopher Voltaire at a time like this. He admonished us years ago, “Waiting for perfection is the great enemy of the current good.” As I say, “Influenza vaccine is a pretty good vaccine, and we can do an awful lot of good, particularly among older persons by getting the vaccine.”

William Schaffner:
We vaccinate two-thirds of the population age 65 and older each and every year. That’s a huge activity, a huge task, but only two-thirds. Why don’t the other third of people age 65 and older get vaccinated? It’s people age 65 and older that have the most complications from influenza.

William Schaffner:
We need the most help, as much help as we can get, to prevent influenza and its complications. Those of us age 65 and older, let’s all get vaccinated and get your friends in there to be vaccinated, also.

Lindsay Clarke:
That’s a great point. We are talking a lot about a lot of different vaccines. People may be scheduling their flu vaccine after hearing you. They are also may have an appointment for their booster, for their COVID-19 booster.

Lindsay Clarke:
I know there’s been a lot of confusion about co-administration, and there were some things that we were hearing at the beginning of the pandemic that have changed a bit.

Lindsay Clarke:
Can you first tell us, is it okay to go get that flu shot and that booster at the same time?

William Schaffner:
It is okay. Don’t be concerned. Yes, you can get flu vaccine and COVID vaccine simultaneously in the same visit, likely one in one arm, and the other in the other arm. The side effects do not multiply.

William Schaffner:
Although, I will tell you, that you’ll probably have two sore arms for a day or two. That, I have to admit, but other than that, I think the side effects for the vaccines don’t multiply in any way.

Lindsay Clarke:
What about other vaccines? If we’ve fallen behind on anything else that we’re due for, maybe someone’s due for their first shingle shot.

Lindsay Clarke:
Can they get that at the same time in as their COVID booster or their flu shot?

William Schaffner:
The answer is yes. The pneumonia vaccine, the shingles vaccine, some will get the hepatitis vaccine, that tetanus diphtheria pertussis vaccine. You can get those, along with your influenza vaccine, along with your COVID vaccine at the same time.

William Schaffner:
The body’s side effects won’t multiply, so it is a safe thing to do, but talk to your healthcare provider. That’s always good advice. Have a discussion with them. You’ll want to catch up if you’re behind on vaccinations, just as soon as possible.

Lindsay Clarke:
How did the CDC determine that it was safe and effective to have more than one vaccine at the same time?

William Schaffner:
Well, for starters, we’ve been doing multiple vaccines simultaneously in pediatrics for decades, not only here, but all around the world. That’s boring, boring, standard practice, but going forward, the CDC, and the vaccine manufacturers, and the National Institutes of Health have all done studies to show that you can get COVID vaccine and other vaccines simultaneously.

William Schaffner:
What most people don’t realize is, the United States actually has the world’s most comprehensive vaccine safety surveillance system. It’s ongoing, it’s been ongoing for years. We monitor that constantly, and we actually increased its capacity in anticipation of the widespread use of COVID vaccine.

William Schaffner:
Everything that that surveillance system tells us is, it is safe to get COVID vaccine and other necessary vaccines, simultaneously. We can rest assured about that.

Lindsay Clarke:
Everyone listening should check in with their healthcare provider, see what vaccines they’re due for, and make an appointment.

Lindsay Clarke:
To that point, we know that a lot of people fell behind on their vaccinations during the pandemic. I know that the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases launched a really important campaign called Keep Up the Rates, to encourage everyone to receive those recommended vaccines that they had delayed during the pandemic.

Lindsay Clarke:
Can you tell us about why this campaign was so needed and what it’s doing to educate people in the U. S. about staying up to date on all of their recommended vaccines?

William Schaffner:
Absolutely. During the height of COVID, and still to some degree today, many people are not seeing their healthcare providers directly. They’re doing it, as we are having our conversation, through the computer, but guess what? We haven’t figured out yet how to vaccinate you through the computer, and so people have fallen behind in their routine vaccine.

William Schaffner:
We discovered this first among children, who get lots of vaccines, but then when we looked again, we said, “Oh, my gosh, that’s happened to adults, also.” The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases has developed this Keep Up the Rates campaign. I like to say, it increased them even more, but in any event, we would like everyone to get up to date in their routinely recommended vaccinations.

William Schaffner:
Every time you encounter, whether virtually or face-to-face, your healthcare provider, I hope you will go over your vaccination history, find out which vaccines are necessary, and then make plans, either in an in-person visit, or going to the local pharmacy, or to a senior citizen center, where they’re providing vaccines, or wherever they’re available, in order that we can deliver this wonderful form of protection to as many older persons as possible. It’s really very important.

William Schaffner:
We’ve got a little PSA that we’ve developed about that. We’re active on social media. We’re working with over 150 professional organizations that are all singing the Raise the Rates song in harmony.

William Schaffner:
We’re all determined to provide the maximum protection to the maximum number of people, particularly this most vulnerable segment of the population. You deserve protection. We want you to get it.

Lindsay Clarke:
Well, and as you mentioned earlier, you’re seeing the flu start to surge. We know that people are getting other infectious diseases, While we’re still practicing some social distancing and masking, hopefully, we are seeing infections.

Lindsay Clarke:
It’s time for people, as you said, to go out and get those vaccines. As you also mentioned, there’s a great PSA that will air for folks right now.

Speaker 3:
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the need for routine vaccinations. Vaccine-preventable diseases like measles, flu, and pneumonia, haven’t gone away, and can cause serious illness.

Speaker 3:
Protect yourself, your family, and those around you, by staying current with routine vaccinations. Talk to your healthcare professional, and stay up to date on all recommended vaccines. Learn more at www.nfid.org.

Lindsay Clarke:
Dr. Schaffner, you talk about all these fabulous resources at Keep Up the Rates.

Lindsay Clarke:
Can you tell us where people can find them?

William Schaffner:
All these resources are available at nfid.org, and they’re available freely. Please use them widely.

Lindsay Clarke:
That’s great. I know I will check it out. Can you tell us when we’re talking about older adults, are there any considerations? You talk about how safe it is.

Lindsay Clarke:
Are there any considerations that older adults should be considering when deciding whether or not to get multiple vaccines at the same time?

William Schaffner:
I always say, speak to your provider. You have a trusted relationship with them, and have that conversation with your physician, your nurse practitioner, your pharmacist, and you can decide whether to get them simultaneously, or stretch them out a little bit.

William Schaffner:
The sooner you get them, from my point of view, the sooner you will be protected, and, certainly, the happier I am, and the more, not only you, but your community, will be protected, because after all, many of these are contagious infections.

Lindsay Clarke:
Dr. Schaffner, we have produced, at the Alliance for Aging Research, some resources that try to help dispel some common misinformation about vaccines, and then more recently, about COVID-19 vaccines.

Lindsay Clarke:
We realize that older adults are often the truth tellers in their community, and sharing a lot of the facts about diseases and conditions, and about vaccination.

Lindsay Clarke:
For those listening, what are some of the common myths and misconceptions that you’re still hearing about COVID-19 vaccines?

William Schaffner:
Well, there’s a long list, but let me address some of the ones that are most prominent.

William Schaffner:
First, there’s still a lingering concern that these vaccines were developed too quick. They are, indeed, a product of 21st century science, right. It’s very, very exciting.

William Schaffner:
Now, actually the research behind these vaccines had been ongoing for 20 years, and then along came the hazard of COVID, and so we had all the benefits of that research, that then could be applied to the development of these vaccines.

William Schaffner:
Scientists all over the world began using this technology to develop vaccines, and they worked night and day, and then, along the method of developing the vaccines, we usually do certain things in sequence.

William Schaffner:
Many things were done simultaneously, that reduced the time to development of the vaccines, but no corners were cut. Every single regulatory requirement was met in spades by all of these vaccines that have been developed.

William Schaffner:
Of course, since we’ve started to use them, they have been used by the millions around the world. We actually have more experience doing surveillance about these vaccines, than we have for many others at this stage of development. We are very secure about their effectiveness and their safety.

William Schaffner:
Now, one of the things I’m asked about this, “Yes, but it’s still short term. What about those long-term effects?” Now, that makes all of us interested in vaccines, kind of scratch our heads, and we say, “Excuse me? What do you mean about long-term effects?” They say, “Well, two, three years to down the road, five years, and we’re still puzzled.”

William Schaffner:
Of all the vaccines we use, there are over 20, in children in this country, and around the world, and in adults, none of them, none of them have long-term effects. If there are adverse events associated with vaccines, and of course, sometimes there are, they will be apparent within the first two or three months of vaccine administration. That’s been the same with COVID vaccine.

William Schaffner:
Let me give you an example. With the J&J vaccine, it was discovered, a needle in the haystack, that this very unusual blood clotting disorder occurred among younger women. We found it, we defined it, we educated providers, we educated the public, and there were then public policy consequences of that.

William Schaffner:
That’s the sort of thing that we found very, very rapidly, so I’m very reassuring, that there are not long-term effects, due to these vaccines.

Lindsay Clarke:
Dr. Schaffner, you spoke about there not being any long-term impacts of the vaccines, but I know, I’ve heard people that are concerned that maybe down the road, they could cause problems with infertility.

Lindsay Clarke:
Is there any truth to that, or any concerns that people should have?

William Schaffner:
Lindsay, that’s a very important question. Indeed, among young women, women who are pregnant, who are interested in becoming pregnant, that’s the most commonly asked question even today.

William Schaffner:
The short answer is, there is no concern about interfering with your reproductive capacity or influence on a baby that you’re carrying the fetus. None, whatsoever. This MRNA, it’s stamped, that little M stands for messenger. It provides some communication, it gets injected, it communicates that information, and then, that molecule within hours falls apart.

William Schaffner:
We excrete, we get rid of all of the pieces, and this MRNA does not go anywhere near the DNA, our essential genetics in our cells. It’s quite removed from that location in our cells. There is no adverse reproductive aspect.

William Schaffner:
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists endorses vaccination of young women, even young women who are intending to become pregnant, women who are pregnant, as does the World Health Organization. We’re all very secure about that.

William Schaffner:
That question, as you can imagine, has been studied very carefully, and we’re all very comfortable with the answer. The answer is, please get vaccinated.

Lindsay Clarke:
Thank you. I’m sure a lot of people were happy to hear that.

Lindsay Clarke:
The Omicron variant is really changing what we thought we knew about vaccines and testing. Tell us, is it necessary to get tested if you’re feeling sick, but you’re up to date with your flu vaccine, and your COVID-19 vaccines, including a booster?

Lindsay Clarke:
What’s the advantage to testing to find out what virus you might have?

William Schaffner:
Well, we’re certainly much more interested in testing now than we have been, and we will be testing much more going into the future.

William Schaffner:
From my point of view, the most important time to be tested, is when you develop symptoms, and we’ll want to distinguish COVID from, particularly, influenza, because we now have different treatments for both of these viruses, particularly among people who are older and have underlying illnesses.

William Schaffner:
It’s important, really, to make that distinction, and that’s where testing, right now, I think is the most important for the constituency that’s listening to this podcast.

Lindsay Clarke:
What are some other things that we should know about the Omicron variant?

William Schaffner:
Well, the Omicron variant is enormously transmissible, more transmissible even than Delta, if you can imagine that. What we’ve discovered is, that it’s very transmissible, and can cause minor illness, minor illness in people who already are vaccinated and boosted, but the people who are being hospitalized with Omicron are almost universally still unvaccinated.

William Schaffner:
The importance of vaccination continues, even though this Omicron variant tends to produce milder disease, if you are unvaccinated, you can be put into the hospital, and this is particularly true if you’re older, and if you have any underlying illness, diabetes, which is so common, heart disease, lung disease, or if you’re immune compromised.

William Schaffner:
Please, get vaccinated, that really will help prevent your being hospitalized if you happen to get infected with Omicron.

Lindsay Clarke:
Clearly, vaccines are our best defense. I know that people are probably getting tired of hearing about all of the things they should be doing to protect themselves and their loved ones, in addition to vaccination.

Lindsay Clarke:
Can you just remind folks what else they should be doing to make sure that they stay safe?

William Schaffner:
Sure. When you go out in public, indoors, in large groups, whether you’re vaccinated or not, please wear the mask, that provides a literal additional level of protection. Of course, try to avoid people who are coughing and sneezing. That’s always important.

William Schaffner:
Be mindful of your hand hygiene. If you’re going to a group activity, well, you’re going to have a bridge party, so you’re all going to go sit around a table, and play bridge for a couple of hours. Please, oblige everybody coming to be vaccinated.

Lindsay Clarke:
That’s a great reminder.

Lindsay Clarke:
Before we close, I have a couple of lighthearted questions for you.

Lindsay Clarke:
What are you most looking forward to in 2022? What are your New Year’s resolutions to healthy aging?

William Schaffner:
Oh, fun questions. As to 2022, and this is quite serious, I would hope that in the first quarter of the year, we will finally get our arms around this virus, COVID virus, and we can move out of the pandemic phase, here in the United States, to endemic.

William Schaffner:
That is, the virus is not going to disappear. It will smolder, but we will develop ways to cope with it, as we do with influenza. We’ll also have to keep our eye and keep working to reduce COVID, not only here in the United States, but around the world.

William Schaffner:
You see, we’ve been faked out a couple of times, we were on track to control the virus, and then along came Delta. Then, we were on track to control Delta, and along came Omicron. Every variant of concern has initiated from another country, and then come here.

William Schaffner:
It’s in our self-interest to work with other countries, the World Health Organization, in order to reduce COVID transmission in all the countries of the world. We’re all closely tied together, and these respiratory viruses can spread instantaneously around the world. We’ll have to keep working on that.

William Schaffner:
As to some general recommendations, exercise is a good thing, it makes you feel better, and makes you fitter. You don’t have to train for the Olympics, but movement is better than being sedentary. Then, the other thing is, keep up your fluids. Here’s my glass of water. My favorite drink. It’s a toast to a healthy 2022.

Lindsay Clarke:
Well, cheers to that. I hope we see this become endemic in 2022. I think we still want people to get their boosters, if that becomes recommended at a later date, but I look forward to that becoming the reality for 2022.

Lindsay Clarke:
I want to thank you for answering all of these questions. I know I learned a lot today, and I’m sure our listeners have learned a ton.

Lindsay Clarke:
I want to thank everyone for listening to This is Growing Old.

William Schaffner:
My pleasure to be with you, and get vaccinated.

Lindsay Clarke:
Happy New Year.