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Will COVID spike again this fall? 6 tips to stay safe

Last year, the emergence of a highly contagious omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus spooked many and led to a surge in cases that overwhelmed hospitals and pushed the death toll.Now we are learning that Omicron is changing for the better evade the immune system.

Omicron specific vaccine It was approved by the FDA in August and is recommended by US health authorities. Ages 5+. However, only half of adults in the United States these booster shotsaccording to the recent KFF voting, and only one-third said they got one or plan to get one as soon as possible. In 2020 and in 2021, he saw a spike in COVID cases in the United States from November to February.

Not sure if we’ll see another surge this winter, but here’s what you need to know about COVID and the updated boosters to prepare for.

1. Need a COVID booster shot this fall?

If you are over 50 and have completed a primary vaccination series or have a compromised immune system, get a COVID booster shot as soon as possible. 40% of deaths It occurs in people over the age of 85, with almost 90% occurring in people over the age of 65.People of all ages are hospitalized with her COVID, but those hospitalizations too old.

people who have not been vaccinatedare the minority in the United States, but still have the highest risk of dying from COVID. It’s never too late to get vaccinated ahead of this winter season. EnglandThe COVID wave has brought people in the US about a month ahead of schedule, and the number of cases is starting to climb even higher.

If you have already had 3 or more doses of COVID vaccination, you are between the ages of 12 and 49 and you are not immunocompromised, you are at risk of: hospitalization When death Infection from disease is greatly reduced, and additional boosters may not add much protection.

However, getting booster shots provides a “honeymoon” period of several months after vaccination. During this period, you are less likely to become infected and less likely to pass the virus on to others. , we recommend getting a booster 2-4 weeks in advance to protect against COVID.

There may be other reasons for wanting to avoid infection, such as not having to stay home from work because you or your child has COVID. can be costly Either lose your wages or arrange backup childcare.

One important caveat to these recommendations: you have to wait. 4-6 months Before getting another shot after your last COVID infection or vaccination. If given too early, it will be less effective because antibodies from previous infections or vaccinations are still circulating in the blood, preventing immune cells from recognizing and responding to the vaccination.

2. Should children be vaccinated if they have COVID?

Children are at low risk, but severe COVID Children are at greater risk than adults for many diseases already recognized as dangerous. Their risk should be measured against the risks they face from other preventable diseases, not against the risks COVID poses to other age groups.In his first two years of the pandemic, COVID 4th or 5th leading cause of death Every five years from birth to age 19, killed about 1,500 children and a teenager.Other vaccine-preventable diseases chicken pox, rubellaWhen rotavirus Before a vaccine became available, it killed an average of about 20-50 children and adolescents each year. Each time Immunizing children against COVID It’s a slam dunk.

Children with COVID also benefit from vaccination.of the vaccine will decrease their hospitalization risk Days off school when parents may need to stay home.

However, many parents are concerned about getting their children vaccinated precisely because of the high risk to them. Just recently, in July, shortly after the FDA approved her COVID vaccine for a 6-month-old, KFF voting More than half of parents with children under the age of 5 believe that vaccines pose a greater risk to their child’s health than contracting the disease.and more recently poll, half said they had no plans to vaccinate their children. COVID vaccination coverage range From 61% of children aged 12 to 17 to 2% of children under 2 years of age.

It’s similar to influenza, COVID is deadliest for the youngest and oldest.Especially at risk infantThey are unlikely to have immunity from infection and only a small percentage are vaccinated. Unless the mother was pregnant or was vaccinated during pregnancy, had COVID while pregnant — the latter is Higher risk of maternal mortality and premature birth of babies — Infants probably do not acquire protective antibodies against COVID through breast milk. Also, because infants have narrow airways and weak coughs, respiratory infections are more likely to cause breathing difficulties and are more fatal than COVID. Even if it’s low.

3. Do I need to be vaccinated against COVID every year?

That depends on the goals set by public health officials, whether COVID will become a seasonal virus like the flu, and to what extent the virus will continue to mutate and evade human immune defenses.

the purpose of vaccination To prevent aggravation, hospitalization, and deaththen many people may be well protected after the first series of vaccines and may not need boosters. However, boosters may be strongly recommended for elderly and immunocompromised individuals. If the purpose of vaccination is to prevent infection and transmission, repeat boosters several times a year after completion of the primary vaccination series. will become necessary.

Influenza is a seasonal virus that commonly causes infections and illnesses in the winter, but scientists don’t know if COVID will settle into a similarly predictable pattern. We have experienced waves of infection. But if the COVID virus becomes the winter virus, public health officials may recommend annual boosters. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people: over 6 months Get a flu shot every year, with very rare exceptions. However, as with the flu, public health officials may still be placing particular emphasis on vaccinating people at high risk for COVID.

And the more the virus mutates, the more likely public health officials are to recommend a boost to overcome the new variant’s immune evasion. Updated Omicron Booster It doesn’t appear to offer significantly better protection than the original booster. Variant proof vaccine It may be able to maintain its potency in the face of new variants.

4. Will there be more variants of COVID in the future?

A variant of Omicron has burst. Subvariant Alphabet SoupThe BA.5 variant, which emerged earlier this year, remains the dominant variant in the US, but the BA.4.6 Omicron subvariant may be poised to dominate in the US.it will now explain 14% of cases and is rising. The BA.4.6 Omicron subvariant is better at dodging people than the BA.5. immune defense from both previous infection and vaccination.

In other parts of the world, BA.4.6 overtaken Described by BA.2.75 and BF.7 (descendants of BA.5), respectively 2% and less than 5% Number of COVID cases in the US BA.2.75.2 Omicron variants caused waves of infections in India in July and August. Another variant derived from BA.5 (BQ.1.1) is still relatively unknown in the US, but is rapidly increasing in other countries like the US. England, BelgiumWhen Denmark. BA.2.75.2 and BQ.1.1 variants are most immune evasion Omicron subvariant to date.

BA.4.6, BA.2.75.2When BQ.1.1 All are resistant to Evusheld, a monoclonal antibody used to prevent COVID in immunocompromised people who do not respond to vaccination. Another drug, bebuterobimab, remains effective in treating COVID, BA.4.6 When BA.2.75.2it is invalid BQ.1.1Many scientists worry that Evusheld will be useless by November or December. This is concerning because the pipeline of new antiviral drugs and monoclonal antibodies to treat COVID is drying up without a guaranteed buyer to secure the market. It had promised to buy antibodies in bulk, but funding for that program has not been extended by Congress.

Other impending Omicron variants include BJ.1, BA.2.3.20, BN.1, and XBB. They are all descendants of BA.2.

It is difficult to predict whether Omicron subvariants or even further variants will predominate this winter and whether hospitalizations and deaths will surge again in the United States. Different versions of Omicron compete in different fields.

While this may all sound harsh, it’s important to remember that COVID booster shots help overcome immune evasion by the dominant Omicron variant.

5. What about the long COVID?

get vaccinated reduce of Risk of going long COVIDbut it gives unknown to what extentResearchers don’t know if the only way to prevent long-term COVID is to prevent infection.

Vaccines may reduce the risk of infection, but few vaccines prevent all or most infections. Additional measures, such as improving indoor air quality and wearing masks, are needed to reduce the risk of infection. It is also unclear whether rapid treatment with currently available monoclonal antibodies and antiviral drugs is possible. drugs like paxlovid Reduces the risk of developing long-term COVID.

6. Do I also need a flu shot?

CDC recommends: 6 months or older Get a flu vaccination every year. The ideal time is late October or early November, before the winter holidays and before flu usually begins to spread in the United States. There is no flu vaccination. Influenza is already prevalent in some areas.

this is especially important People aged 65 and over, pregnant women, people with chronic diseases, children under 5 years old They are at the highest risk of hospitalization and death and should be vaccinated against the flu every year. Young people may be at low risk of severe influenza, but they may act as vectors of influenza transmission to high-risk people in the community.

High-dose influenza vaccine and “adjuvanted” influenza vaccine are recommended Over 65 years oldAdjuvants enhance the immune response to vaccines.

It’s safe to get the COVID and flu shots at the same time, but more side effects Fever, headache, body aches, etc.

Fix: This article has been updated to distinguish between ‘adjuvanted’ and high-dose influenza vaccines.

KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism on health issues. KHN is one of his three major operational programs in the United States, along with policy analysis and polling KFFMore (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is a donated non-profit organization that provides information on health issues to the public.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/covid-19-variants-boosters-fall-2022/ Will COVID spike again this fall? 6 tips to stay safe

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