Don’t be a grinch — get the updated COVID-19 booster

The best bet to keep the winter holiday season from turning into a disappointment is for more Americans to roll up their sleeves and get jabbed with the updated COVID-19 booster.

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Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady looks at her arm before receiving her COVID-19 bivalent booster during a press conference at a CVS pharmacy in the West Lawn neighborhood, where health officials announced that Paxlovid is available at pharmacies and encouraged people to get a COVID-19 bivalent booster vaccine and a flu vaccine ahead of the holidays, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady looks at her arm before receiving her COVID-19 bivalent booster during a press conference at a CVS pharmacy in the West Lawn neighborhood, where health officials announced that Paxlovid is available at pharmacies and encouraged people to get a COVID-19 bivalent booster vaccine and a flu vaccine ahead of the holidays, Tuesday.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

With Thanksgiving now behind us and the winter holidays approaching, Americans are hoping to keep the joyous momentum going with ugly Christmas sweater get-togethers, office parties and large family gatherings.

But as we learned last year — rushing to COVID-19 testing centers before trekking to see relatives — a positive result can put a damper on a merry mood and bring celebrations to a screeching halt.

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Coronavirus cases surged in Chicago then and about 10,000 residents were being diagnosed with the coronavirus each day by December, the city’s Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady reminded us last week.

The best bet to stop a repeat of last year is for more Americans to roll up their sleeves and get jabbed with the updated COVID-19 booster, Arwady and U.S. health officials are stressing yet once again.

Editorial

Editorial

Many of us have put COVID in the rear-view mirror, but these medical experts can’t be blamed for repeatedly raising the alarm bells, especially as federal funding is starting to wane.

Only roughly 15% of eligible Chicago residents (and 13% of adults nationwide) have received the “bivalent” booster shots that Pfizer and Moderna rolled out in September to combat the BA.5 omicron strain and the original coronavirus.

And with flu season in full swing and the high number of RSV [respiratory syncytial virus] patients jamming hospital rooms, there is concern there will be a “tri-epidemic” as 2022 winds down.

There are no vaccines for RSV. But shots for the flu and COVID-19 are widely available and easily accessible.

Unfortunately, even with a death toll of over a million that still keeps growing, too many Americans have refused to get the primary vaccines and subsequent boosters. 

Some minds may never be swayed, as we’ve mentioned before. But the rest of the population who are likely suffering from vaccine fatigue should heed the latest study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that bolsters the booster’s effectiveness.

The updated COVID-19 boosters add 30% to 56% protection against symptomatic infection, according to the CDC data.

Those who just received their two preliminary shots eight months before and skipped all the other boosters benefitted the most from the latest shot, the report found.

It can’t be said often enough: COVID-19 vaccines do save lives and help protect the most vulnerable, including the elderly and immunocompromised.

There’s still time to get the boosters before the festive season is in full swing. More Chicagoans should stop resisting to keep another wave of illnesses from washing away the holiday cheer.

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