Covid-19 is still with us and health professionals are urging people to get the new Covid-19 booster. However, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has noticed a disturbing trend.
The CDC says, as of early November, only 14% of adults received the latest Covid-19 booster. Only 30% of at-risk older adults have had the shot. The monovalent booster is designed to protect people against various strains of the Omicron variant.
The lag in vaccination could explain why there’s been a recent increase in Covid-19 hospitalizations around the country. Hospitalizations rose last month and may spike even more after Thanksgiving.
In Montgomery County, community spread is low right now. The County Health Department reports as of Nov. 28, there were nearly 20 new cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people.However, the hospitalization rate is just 3.
Montgomery County’s Health Officer, Dr. Kisha Davis, is keeping a close eye on the Covid-19 spread.
“We are not surprised with the uptick in COVID cases nationwide after Thanksgiving. That is to be expected with so many people traveling and gathering indoors. We saw a similar increase last year,” Davis said.
“We are most concerned with the low vaccination rates. The switch this year in how the COVID vaccine is covered has made it more difficult to hold large vaccine clinics,” Davis added.
The government is no longer offering the Covid-19 vaccine for free. Instead people have to get the vaccine through their insurance plans.
“There also is a level of vaccine fatigue where people may feel like they do not need it anymore because of past infection or prior vaccination. Getting the updated COVID vaccine is still very important. It protects against the strains of COVID that are currently circulating. We know that COVID-19 is still more deadly than flu. Getting the vaccine, while it may not stop you from getting COVID completely it likely will prevent hospitalization or death of you or someone you care about,” Davis added.
She also said the vaccines are the best protection against developing symptoms of long Covid.
Dr. Fabian Sandoval is Chief Executive Officer of Emerson Clinical Research Institute in Washington, D.C.
He agrees and says vaccination is important.
“We’re seeing vaccine burnout. It’s Covid burnout. But the reality is, you are probably going to get Covid, and if you do not have the vaccine, your symptoms might be worse than if you did have the vaccine,” Sandoval said.
Flu and RSV
The flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) also are circulating. Vaccines for the flu are available, and if a person is at least 60 years old, he or she can get a vaccine to protect against RSV.
“A couple of weeks ago we started to see rises in RSV and influenza. Our hospital partners are well prepared, and the rate of hospitalization and ICU bed usage, while increased still overall remains low,” Davis said.
Protect Yourself and Others
Sandoval urges people, especially if they are sick, to wear a mask.
“Don’t be shy to wear a mask around other people. It’s okay. When you have a mask on, it’s not a big deal. Be responsible, and wear a mask, wash your hands frequently, and use the hand sanitizers available everywhere,” Sandoval said.
Not Too Late to Get Vaccines
Winter is just around the corner and health professionals say it is not too late to get your shots. Doctors say it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection. They also recommend patients wait at least two weeks between getting their Covid-19 booster and the RSV shot if they are eligible.