COVID-19 making comeback amid low Washington booster rates

Jun 28, 2024, 1:22 PM

Photo: COVID-19 antigen home tests indicating a positive result are photographed in New York, April...

COVID-19 antigen home tests indicating a positive result are photographed in New York, April 5, 2023. (File photo: Patrick Sison, AP)

(File photo: Patrick Sison, AP)

COVID-19 is resurging as many people are taking their summer vacations but Washington State Department of Health (DOH) data shows booster rates are low. Only 19.2% of Washingtonians are up to date on their vaccines.

While DOH data shows COVID-19 hospitalizations are significantly less than in previous years, cases have steadily increased since May.

According to The Associated Press (AP), health officials have reported an uptick in cases this month but aren’t sure if it’s a sign of a coming summer wave, which has happened previously, or just a blip.

“We’ll have to see what happens in the coming weeks,” Lauren Ancel Meyers of the University of Texas, who leads a research team that tracks COVID-19, told The AP on Thursday.

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The AP added that many people have some degree of immunity but there are still new variants emerging and hundreds of COVID-19-associated deaths and thousands of hospitalizations are reported each week.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends those 12 years and older who received a vaccine before September 12, 2023, should get one updated Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

The CDC said people should get a yearly booster shot, like the flu vaccine, but many Americans aren’t doing that. Surveys show shrinking percentages of Americans think COVID-19 is a major health threat to the U.S. population, and indicate that fewer doctors are urging patients to get updated vaccines.

“I worry people think COVID is behind us,” Dr. Eric Chow, chief of communicable disease epidemiology and immunizations for Seattle and King County Public Health, told the Washington State Standard on Thursday.

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Chow noted the vaccine is most important for people over 65 and those with previous health conditions. However, he said young people are still at risk of long COVID.

According to the DOH, long COVID can last a few weeks, months or years after getting infected. Common symptoms are feeling tired, fever, difficulty breathing, coughing, chest pain, difficulty focusing, headache, stomach pain, change in smell or taste and changes in menstrual cycles.

The DOH stated the best way to prevent COVID is by washing hands, wearing masks in crowds, staying home when sick and getting vaccinated. According to The AP, health officials are preparing a fall vaccine campaign.

Contributing: Mike Stobbe, The Associated Press

Julia Dallas is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read her stories here. Follow Julia on X here and email her here.

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COVID-19 making comeback amid low Washington booster rates