Every day there is increased news about combating the COVID-19 virus. With the several different varieties of the COVID-19 virus, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has responded with continuous upgrades of COVID-19 vaccinations, and they are now pushing booster shots to help society fight against the ever-evolving virus.  

The updated boosters increase immunity against the original COVID-19 strain and protect against the newer Omicron variants as well. During a recent webinar, health experts discussed the importance of taking the booster shot and answered questions on possible concerns and side effects that come with the shot.

Recommendations

“The USA Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the updated COVID-19 booster for anybody 12 years and older,” said Dr. Gil Chávez, California Department of Public Health deputy director. “The CDC also recommends that people go through both rounds of vaccination shots before getting the booster shot as this will improve the efficiency of the booster.”

Chavez shared the recent research from the CDC and other medical professionals that confirmed the vaccine and the booster shot protect people from the extreme effects of the virus if they catch it. They will recover quicker than non-vaccinated people with no lingering side effects. 

He recommends yearly vaccine and booster shots once both are updated to protect from Omicron and Deltacron variants. California has received the first 600,000 doses of the updated boosters approved by the CDC, with another 400,000 doses released shortly after. 

Chavez and other public health officials urge people to get the booster shot and vaccine as they see COVID-19 cases trending upward for the upcoming winter season. Chavez also recommends getting tested after being at large events and staying isolated if there is a fever or cough.

Vaccine availability

“We always put in the effort to make sure the vaccine and booster shots are easily accessible to the public,” Chavez said as he explained the importance of making the vaccinations more available to low-income communities. “We make sure they are available in primary health care clinics, providers, pharmacies, and very importantly we make sure the vaccines are free of charge.” 

Dr. Maggie Park warned of an increase in cases during the fall and winter seasons.

“Many models are predicting we are facing another COVID-19 surge this fall or winter. We saw a considerable amount of cases because of the new omicron strain and can expect another increase if people don’t get the updated booster shot.”

Park is a pediatrician and serves as the County Public Health Officer for San Joaquin County. She previously served as the medical consultant to the California Children Services (CCS) program and oversaw the Child Health and Disability Prevention (CHDP) program, the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, and the Foster Care Program for San Joaquin County Public Health Services.

Park highlighted that over 77 percent of people living in California are vaccinated and have the booster shot, which will help keep the numbers infections low. But people still think that COVID-19 is over, rather than viewing it as an evolving virus. This will lead to some irresponsible persons contracting the virus, spreading the germs, and maybe ending up hospitalized. 

Parks asked that everybody continue safe practices. Residents can stop the spread of COVID-19 by keeping up to date with the booster shots; getting vaccinated yearly, once vaccinations are made available; and getting tested when possible. 

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