When should you get a COVID reminder? Experts say before the holidays

According to the Utah Department of Health and Human Services, less than 8% of all Utahns are considered current on their COVID-19 vaccinations.

But health experts say it’s not too late for adults and children as young as 5 to be protected from COVID-19 this Thanksgiving and other holiday celebrations this winter by rolling up their sleeves. for the last recall, the first targeted currently in circulation. versions of the virus.

“Scientifically, I think now is the perfect time to get it,” said Rich Lakin, director of immunizations for the state Department of Health and Human Services. Based on the two to three weeks it can take for immunity to develop, he said an updated booster dose now means a high level of protection once the holidays arrive.

Even before families sat together for a Thanksgiving meal, Lakin said they had likely been subjected to additional exposure to the virus, because “we all know that before Thanksgiving people go shopping. They will get closer. It will be colder. »

COVID-19 cases are already starting to climb, with the state reporting that the seven-day average number of cases has increased nearly 14% over the past week, to just over 346. The seven-day average days of new hospital admissions for the virus also jumped. , from less than 16 to 18 per day, an increase of just over 13%.

The state Department of Health and Human Services also reported that nine more Utahns have lost their lives to COVID-19 since the last update posted on coronavirus.utah.gov a week ago, bearing the death toll from the virus in Utah at 5,065.

Increased immunity should last not only through Christmas and New Years, but all winter. he said, of what is called a bivalent booster, as it also continues to target the original COVID-19 strain in addition to the BA.4 and BA.5 labeled omicron variant versions that are responsible for most cases in the United States

Updated booster shots have been federally approved for adults and children as young as 5 years old, as long as it has been two months or more since they received the initial doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, available for everyone at least 6 months.

People are considered current on their vaccinations if they are 5 years of age or older and have received the update booster, or if they are under 5 years of age and have completed the initial vaccination series. Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 7.3% of Americans age 5 or older have received the updated reminder.

Low booster consumption ‘frustrating’ for FDA official

Hilary Marston, chief medical officer for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, expressed concern in an interview with Scientific American published this week about the low uptake of updated booster shots that became available in early September.

“Would I like to see the numbers higher? Absolutely. And I think any healthcare worker would and anyone who is following this pandemic very closely. As a health care worker, boy, I feel for those in emergency rooms on the front lines,” Marston said.

These health workers “are going to be there to take care of you if you get sick, of course, but it’s so distressing,” she said. “And it’s frustrating, because we have tools, we have more than we could have hoped for at the start of this pandemic. And it’s frustrating to see the boosters not coming up.

Marston called the updated snaps “the best thing you can do to protect yourself against this virus”, and urged everyone who is eligible to get them. She said those who are hospitalized or who die from COVID-19 are “a very large majority of people who have not been vaccinated at all or who have not been vaccinated”.

Lakin is optimistic that Utahns’ interest in booster shots will soon begin to increase.

“It’s low everywhere. I think people are suffering from vaccine fatigue right now. As fall approaches, we ask them to get their flu shot. We ask them to get another dual booster. There were a lot of recalls,” he said. “We just have to be patient, and as the season gets closer to winter I think we’ll start to see an increase.”

Why Utah’s state immunization director had to wait for his recall

The director of immunization for the state Department of Health and Human Services was waiting to receive his updated COVID-19 booster shot due to persistent symptoms from a breakthrough case of the virus over the summer, including the loss of his senses of taste and smell.

It is recommended that people who have had COVID-19 wait three months before getting vaccinated, as they have some natural immunity from infection. Lakin said he plans to receive both an updated COVID-19 booster shot and his annual flu vaccination this week.

“You know, the virus can do this to you,” he said, describing himself as lucky because he suffered no damage to his lungs or other organs. But Lakin said he expects to have to live with the “strange” effects of his long COVID-19 for a year or more because so little is known about the treatment.

For those still wondering about the need for the updated COVID-19 reminder, his message was clear.

“The risk of a vaccine is very minimal compared to the risk of the virus itself. And you just don’t know if you get COVID if you’re going to be one of those people who have serious complications,” Lakin said, crediting vaccines with saving millions of lives.

“I just think people need to remember that this pandemic isn’t over. It’s going to continue for a while,” he warned. “The best thing you can do is protect yourself, and you can. do with the vaccine.”

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