Who should consider getting a second COVID booster?
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - As COVID cases fall in Indiana and Kentucky, the decline begs the question: Are we in clear with COVID? Should people consider getting the second COVID-19 booster vaccine?
This comes as the new omicron subvariant, called XE, makes its way to Louisville.
In Indiana, Dr. Eric Yazel from Clark County Health said 29 percent of cases have been identified as the older BA.2 subvariant. The variant is a combination of the original BA.1 omicron variant and its subvariant BA.2.
This type of combination is known as a “recombinant” variant.
Yazel said he thinks we’re not out of the woods yet.
”That’s what everybody has kind of been asking for for a while now,” Yazel said. “More individualized based recommendations verses blanket restrictions and things like that.”
If you are unvaccinated and high risk, he said there is still a real concern.
“On the flipside, if you are fully vaccinated and a healthy person, chances are you are going to be able to go back to a normal lifestyle,” Yazel said. “I do think we are starting to see the scenario where this is just a mild illness that we treat like other things. Kind of like the flu or other illnesses that we encounter commonly.”
Yazel said you should get the initial booster, even if you are fully vaccinated. Those most at risk over 50 or with high-risk medical conditions should think about getting the second booster.
”I think there’s some frustration out there because it’s like, ‘Alright, now we got to get another booster. Where does it stop,’ and I get that,” Dr. Yazel said. “But then on the flipside, a lot of us take a flu shot every year and don’t bat an eye at that. Chances are they will be very infectious. That is how viruses behave. In order to muscle out the one before them, they have to be more infectious. But what tends to come along with that is less severity.”
He said he hopes as time goes on it will represent the common cold.
“I do think we are starting to see the scenario where this is just a mild illness that we treat like other things,” Yazel said. “Kind of like the flu or other illnesses that we encounter commonly.”
Yazel said Pfizer and Moderna are offering the new booster.
”It is a small group of people that tend to get very ill from COVID, so I understand that philosophy,” Yazel said. “But as we learn more about the long term effects of COVID infection; blood clots, long term risks of diabetes, I still think it is a good idea to take the COVID booster event though a majority of these illnesses are mild.”
Yazel said he thinks we are still transitioning to the endemic phase, but that will change if we don’t continue to take precautions.
“The fact is that we are not seeing changes in our area and there is hope that we will weather this (new variant) pretty well and hopefully subsequent variants that come through will have just minor effects,” Yazel said.
Yazel said Clark County’s positivity rates and hospitalizations have stayed low. He said he can not predict if the new variant will change that.
“We’ve gone several days at Clark Memorial Health without a single impatient with COVID,” Yazel said. “That’s the first time that happened since the pandemic actually started. Our numbers are the best we have seen since the pandemic, and I think that is reassuring.”
He said other than getting the vaccine, people can also take advantage of other treatment modalities like the oral antiviral pill or hospital-based treatments to stay healthy this spring.
Although outdoor events have lower risks, he said, places like waiting areas in busy restaurants can be places of spread.
Yazel said he recommends waiting out in a car to minimize exposure if you are high risk.
“All the same things still apply to whatever variant comes through,” Yazel said. “We recommend you get vaccinated. If you are high risk protect yourself. Those same things are going to be our recommendations no matter what comes along to be honest.”
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