By GWEN MURANAKA, Rafu Senior Editor
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, physicians and public health officials are urging the Asian Pacific Islander community to get their vaccinations now for COVID-19, flu and RSV.
In a Zoom briefing on Wednesday, Dr. Rohan Radhakrishna, California Department of Public Health chief equity officer, said now is the time to boost immunity heading into the busy holiday season.
“Fall and winter is the time for gathering with family and friends. Celebrations are so important for our mental and emotional health and well-being. For many Asian cultures, we value and need this intergenerational connectedness, especially during the holidays as we look forward to Thanksgiving and new years like Diwali, Japanese and Chinese New Year’s, among many Asian celebrations.
“Now is the time to get vaccinated, to update your family and your community immunity to prepare for these celebrations and winter gatherings,” Radhakrishna stated.
Currently COVID and flu rates are low, according to Radhakrishna. As of Nov. 3, California has confirmed a total of 104,514 COVID-19 deaths, daily hospitalizations are averaging 213 and test positivity rates are 6.5%. He said that not enough Asians have gotten the most recent COVID vaccine. Among Asians, ages 60 and older, 16% have received the vaccine; while overall the number is 8.5%.
“This is too low to prepare for fall winter season. Especially for older Asian Californians, we are urging them to get vaccinated,” Radhakrishna said. “The problem is that winter viruses like influenza, RSV and COVID, all three of them can get in the way and pose serious risks to gatherings. The good news is you are right on time to update your immunity while transmission is low.”
Radhakrishna recommended that everyone six months and older get the COVID and flu shots and added that it is safe to get them both at the same time.
“The updated vaccine is the best protection from getting sick this fall and protects against the variants,” he explained.
The RSV vaccine is recommended for older adults and women who are between 32-36 weeks pregnant as a way to transmit immunity to the fetus that lasts about six months after birth.
The message on vaccinations was given in multiple languages by Dr. Dali Fan of UC Davis Health, Dr. Tou Mouanoutoua of UCSF in Fresno, Dr. Sara Kwong and nurse practitioner Linda Nguyen.
Dr. Yasuko Fukuda, a pediatrican in San Francisco, urged the Japanese community to get their vaccinations. She said that giving multiple shots is safe for children.
“More things are introduced to a child’s mouth when they suck their thumbs, so all those vaccines are fine. Don’t be sick and get your shots!” Fukuda said.