Get the new COVID-19 booster to keep the virus at bay

Published 4:21 pm Friday, September 16, 2022

The Northeast Tennessee Regional Health Office reported this week that the new updated COVID-19 booster is now available at the Carter County Health Department as well as other area health departments.
Dr. David Kirschke, Medical Director of the Northeast Regional Health Office, said this vaccine matches the currently dominant omicron variant, a true feat considering how rapidly this virus mutates.
“Vaccines remain the best protection we have against COVID-19. The updated COVID booster increases protection against virus variants currently circulating and is safe and effective,” said Dr. Kirschke.
The latest report from the Tennessee Department of Health reveals that Carter County over seven days (Sept. 4-9) had a daily case rate of 28.6 cases per 100,000 residents per day. The report noted the average percent positivity rate among those tested for COVID was 24.7 percent, which is down from a few weeks ago.
It may seem that the pandemic is waning. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dropped its quarantine and distancing requirements, and many people have tossed aside their masks. Classes are held in buildings, and businesses are largely open to the public.
But the virus has not gone away. The upcoming flu season likely will see another surge in COVID infections, as well.
We likely are moving towards a path with a vaccination cadence similar to that of the annual influenza vaccine, with annual, updated COVID-19 shots matched to the currently circulating strains for most of the population. However, some — particularly vulnerable groups — may continue to need more frequent vaccination against COVID-19.
Despite what can be found on extremist, anti-vaccine social media sites, the vaccines are safe. More than 600 million doses have been administered in the U.S. and billions worldwide.
This doesn’t mean people who get the vaccine won’t contract the virus. Breakthrough cases occur.
But public health and medical experts agree that the vaccines save lives of those who do contract the virus by significantly curbing the symptoms. In some cases, people with the virus present as asymptomatic. The vaccines have kept people from hospitals and severe illness.
There is always a chance that a new variant will emerge, just like it does with influenza. U.S. health officials will meet annually to analyze what adjustments need to be made in boosters.
We would urge you to get vaccinated and get boosted to keep yourself and others safe this fall and winter.

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