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As COVID Outlook Improves Across North Carolina, Omicron-Specific Boosters Should Offer “Critical” Protections a>The latest wave of the COVID-19 virus shows modest signs of improvement with 43 counties at high risk of illness and strain on the healthcare system. That’s down from 62 high-risk counties the previous week. As August drew to a close, the state reported 20,855 new COVID cases last week with 1,120 hospital admissions. North Carolina State Health Director and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Betsey Tilson told Policy Watch in a recent interview that vaccination remains the best protection against the virus as teachers and students return to class. “For our teachers and staff, being up to date on their vaccines and reinforcement is really, really important because their risk of exposure will likely increase as we move into fall and winter,” Tilson said. “What we really want to do is protect people from serious illness, hospitalization and death and being up to date on these vaccines and boosters is the best way to prevent this serious disease, and we certainly do. for our teachers, staff and students. Tilson explained that while we have more immunity in our community from past vaccinations and infections, staying up to date on recalls is an added layer of protection.
On Wednesday, the US Food and Drug Administration amended the emergency use authorizations of Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to allow bivalent formulations. The updated boosters contain two messenger RNA (mRNA) components of the SARS-CoV-2 virus – one from the original strain of the virus, the other in common with the BA.4 and BA.5 lineages of the omicron variant. Targeting omicron sub-variants is an important breakthrough in the pandemic. The BA.5 subvariant accounted for 84% of North Carolina cases the week of August 20. Another 11% were the BA 4.6 variety. FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert M. Califf called the updated boosters “an opportunity” to get ahead of the next wave of the virus. “These updated reminders are essential to help protect adolescents and adults from the most serious consequences of COVID-19 caused by the variant currently in circulation. Unfortunately, only about half of eligible Americans received their first booster dose.”
Califf noted that those who are up to date on their vaccines have a thirteen times lower risk of dying from COVID compared to those who are not vaccinated and a three times lower risk of dying for those who have had only one recall versus two . “So this is a remarkable opportunity to improve our life expectancy and reduce the number of deaths in our population,” Califf added. For the Moderna vaccine, people aged 18 and over will be eligible for a single booster dose of the bivalent vaccine if it has been at least two months since they completed their primary vaccination course or received the most recent booster dose. For Pfizer-BioNTech, people aged 12 and over will be eligible for a single booster dose of the bivalent vaccine if it has been at least two months since they completed the primary vaccination or received their last dose. reminder. The CDC should provide specific guidelines within a few days. In North Carolina, 77% of the total adult population has received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. However, only 30% of children and adolescents (aged 6 months to 17 years) received a dose of protection.
The COVID vaccination rate has been relatively stable for most of the summer with just under 5,000 first doses and 3,800 second doses administered in the past week.
But Dr. Tilson remains optimistic that those who have been waiting will benefit from the new doses targeting Omicron subvariants as soon as they become available after the Labor Day holiday. She also notes that it’s not too early to start thinking about your annual flu shot. Both can be received at the same time, according to the CDC. For more on COVID, mask-wearing heading into this fall, and the latest news on monkeypox, be sure to listen to our full interview below with the state’s health director. and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Betsey Tilson: http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/News-and-Views-for-8-28-2022-SegmentOne-DrBT.mp3
. So the outlook COVID improve in all North Carolina the specific boosters Omicron should offer of the protections reviews