S4E25: Your Guide to this Year’s Fall Vaccines

Concerned about the immunity of you or a loved one? As fall is upon us, we discuss the vaccines you might consider, especially for someone with chronic illness: the annual flu shot, a COVID booster, and the RSV vaccine.

In this episode:

  • 05:11 – DNA in Space
  • 11:12 – Eisenhower’s Beef Soup
  • 12:19 – Fall Vaccines
  • 29:30 – Poem by Fernanda Reyes: Collecting memories like souvenirs: Love and death lessons in verse
  • 32:25 – Outro

Do I need all these vaccines?

Respiratory viruses are the most concerning cold-weather viruses.  These are especially deadly to people of advanced age or in poor health. It wasn’t long ago that we could get our yearly flu shot and be done; now have COVID and RSV to consider on our hit parade of vaccines that reduce risks from all major viruses likely to circulate this season. Look at the summaries below, and listen to the podcast for full details and symptoms to look for.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) (Credit CDC Public Health Image Library)

RSV is a common winter virus that usually causes mild cold-like illness with runny nose, decrease in appetite, coughing, sneezing, fever, or wheezing. Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can cause serious illness for any age. Infants and older adults, especially if they have chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease, weakened immune systems, or who live in nursing homes or long-term care facilities, are at highest risk of serious illness and complications from RSV.

RSV may also lead to worsening of other medical conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or congestive heart failure. The federal government has approved the first RSV vaccines for people 60 years and older and timing is best to get it in early fall as RSV tends to circulate earlier than the flu.


The flu officially kills about 35,000 Americans in a typical year, but it may be even higher. The flu also weakens the body in ways that make heart attacks and strokes more common, especially in older adults.


This flu vaccine shots are now, but you may want to wait until late September or October to get one. The heaviest parts of flu season tend to occur between December and February. If you wait, the vaccine’s protection against severe illness will still be near its strongest level during those months.


Of course, COVID is always mutating, and there has been at least one variant under scrutiny this fall as it causes surges in other countries. The best defense against COVID has not changed: vaccines and post-infection treatments. They are especially important for older adults and those that are immunocompromised.

The federal government is on track to approve updated COVID vaccines designed to combat recent variants this month. Once it does, all adults should consider getting a booster shot. Many Americans have now gone more than a year without one, and immunity has waned.

A good strategy for many people may be to get their COVID booster and flu shot at the same time, in late September or October. And if you’re older and you get COVID, talk to your health care practitioner about taking Paxlovid which can make a big difference in your outcomes.

In Summary

Here’s a vaccine summary from Your Local Epidemiologist, who also has a very good article about fall vaccines. She is a great resource for up-to-date research data and well-presented statistics on variants and waves.

A table with A summary of Fall 2023 Vaccines

Related Episodes:



To Go Where No One Has Gone Before…

Enterprise will be carrying the precious remains of over 200 individuals, and DNA samples from individuals – living and deceased – from around the globe. Iconic Star Trek creators, actors, and artists, an Apollo-era NASA astronaut, global adventurers, ground-breaking scientists and engineers, space explorers, veterans, and everyday people from many nations will be a part of the historic journey.

Visit the Celestis Enterprise page for more information, or follow the progress on Facebook.

Recipe of the Week

In honor of remains of dead American Presidents to be blasted into space, we offer our recipe of the week, Eisenhower’s famous beef stew.

A poem about love – Fernanda Reyes

Charlie read a moving poem about love, written by Fernanda Reyes. The author shared this on her blog:

“It [a recent wedding] got me thinking about love and how it’s this incredible thing, but at the same time, there’s that fear in the back of our minds about losing someone we care about. This poem managed to capture the beauty in life’s fragility. Understanding the fragility of life suddenly gives us this fresh perspective on what truly matters.”

So enjoy her beautiful, moving words below, and check out Fernanda’s blog at Evermore: Navigating the Space Between Life and Death: Personal Stories for Dealing with Terminal Illness.

A poem about love

I wrote this poem last week

Late one night

Hunched over a laptop

Out of my wife’s sight

It’s a poem about the lessons I’ve learned

About what love is,

As far as I'm concerned.

Love is the freedom to be who you are,

Because in each other’s eyes you’re always a star.

It’s the invisible safety net -


It's the massive trampoline,

That springs you out of your shell into your wildest dreams.

Love is the giddiness when she walks through the door

The ache you feel when you miss her to the core

Love brought us here, not just us two

But all of you

Compelled you to get on that 30 hour plane

To leave your kids at home

To get on that train

To give up this lovely house, for us to entertain

Or maybe it wasn’t,

and you’re here for the free not-even-champagne.

But Love is not just rainbows and butterflies as the movies portray

Love is not just the the actions or even words you say

Love is looking for her keys,


Whilst half an hour late,

Then rushing to the place, just to find out she got the wrong date,

It’s saying you were wrong

Even if it technically



your mistake

Love’s like the warmth of the sun on a freezing day

Love creates memories that you replay and replay

You see

My wife and I have been together, for nine years or so

From the first tinder swipe, what feels like a lifetime ago

What a journey we would go on, little did we know

Around the world we’ve travelled near and far

Laying on a rock in the New Zealand Alps gazing at the stars,

Vomiting in India wondering why on earth we ordered the

beef medium rare

on a beach.

I can go on , but we don't have too much time to spare

So fast forward to 2 years ago when we made our vows

To love each other, for better or for worse

In sickness and in health

Till death do us part

Till death do us part

But recently I’ve learned that

Yes, love brings joy of course

But it lasts much longer - Than death do us part

It puts even infinity to shame

Because it sees so much more...

Love is the G force stomach knot of fear

When the doctor says it’s stage four

It’s the dread you feel, shaken to the core

It’s the sadness of loss to come,

The terror of grief

I’ve learnt

that, too

is just love

On its twisted, upside down course

Because love is beguiling, it does funny things

It makes us laugh, cry, shout

It tugs at our heartstrings

But know that love is the reason we are all here

So let’s collect these memories like souvenirs

Before the party ends and we all disappear

Because to live a life without love

Is not really a life worth living

So love with all your heart,

No matter what

Just find something or someone to love a lot.

For me it's you, so thanks for giving me a shot

At loving you,

No matter what.

We are also selected as one of the Top 50 Grief Blogs on the Web!

From Everyone Dies:

Everyone Dies: and yes, it is normal!

Everyone Dies (and yes, it is normal) is a story about a young boy named Jax who finds something special on the beach where he and his grandpa Pops are enjoying a wonderful day. Pops helps Jax understand that death is a normal part of life. This book provides an age appropriate, non-scary, comfortable way to introduce the important topic of mortality to a preschool child. Its simple explanation will last a lifetime. Autographed copies for sale at: www.everyonediesthebook.com. Also available at Amazon

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