Because the situation surrounding COVID-19 is constantly evolving, some information may not be up to date. Stay informed by following information from your local officials and by visiting the CDC website.
After 20 months of living in a world of lockdowns, mask mandates, and vaccine information, we are starting to see the end as more people increase their immunity against the COVID-19 virus. The U.S. is nearing the total population needed to reach herd immunity. However, immunity from a single one- or two-dose vaccine can wane over time. Booster shots are a good way to stay ahead of the illness and prevent those more severe symptoms. Let’s see what a future of living with COVID-19 looks like.
What does the COVID-19 pandemic look like for 2022?
What have we seen over the past year? Health care officials announce lower COVID-19 cases, people relax safety guidelines, and then a new variant pops up. However, this time it actually looks like COVID-19 will be transitioning from a pandemic to an endemic disease in the U.S.
What is endemic?
Endemic is defined as the constant presence and/or usual prevalence of a disease or infectious agent within a geographic area. Endemic diseases include the flu, tuberculosis, and various types of pneumonia.
Basically, this means COVID-19 will always be present but not in catastrophic numbers. This movement to an endemic-level phase is a good sign for the COVID-19 virus in the U.S. as it marks moving away from a pandemic emergency mode with a high rate of hospitalizations.
This transition means that the pandemic will not end with the disappearance of the virus, but rather with enough people gaining immunity against it. As more people build protection against COVID-19, there will be less transmission and fewer COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths.
Do COVID-19 vaccine booster shots work?
Data from the CDC continues to show a decrease in COVID-19 infections, as the seven-day average for cases has declined multiple weeks in a row. Models predict that cases will continue to lower, and this downturn is primarily due to the amount of the population getting the COVID-19 vaccine. However, recent data suggests that vaccination becomes less effective over time, creating a need for booster shots to increase our immune response against the virus.
Who can get a COVID-19 booster shot?
The CDC’s current recommendations allow for you to mix and match which booster shot you get; speak with your primary care physician about which boosters are available for you. You are eligible to get a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna booster if you are 65 years or older or 18 years or older and living in a long-term care setting, have underlying medical conditions, or work in a high-risk setting. If you are 18 years or older, you are eligible to receive the Johnson and Johnson vaccine booster shot.
Preparing to live with the COVID-19 virus
We all have a different meaning of what it looks like to live with the COVID-19 virus. Dr. Paul Klotman, president and CEO of Baylor College of Medicine, provides some valuable resources to determine what that looks like for you.
- Online COVID-19 news resources. The CDC and New York Times websites both provide up-to-date information around happenings of the virus in the U.S. and follow what is going on in the rest of the world.
- Vaccines and booster shots. The U.S. is gradually climbing toward the number of people vaccinated to reach herd immunity.
As we prepare for a post-pandemic life, we can’t forget that we haven’t reached the endemic stage yet. Dr. Richina Bicette, medical director of emergency medicine at the McNair Campus at Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center, offers her opinion while we move toward this goal.
“We saw this happen in June over the summer, when we declared the pandemic to be over a bit too early. We decided that those who are vaccinated need not wear masks, which turned into everyone not wearing masks, and then, subsequently, the spike and the Delta wave followed.”
The time to hang up our masks may be nearing, but, in order to get there, we still have some steps to take. Speak with a Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group primary care physician via a virtual or in-person appointment about COVID-19 booster shots and other things you can do in our efforts against the virus. Together, we can do this.
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