NORFOLK, Va. — Months after people over 50 and the immunocompromised got the green light for the second COVID-19 booster, everyone else is left wondering what's next for them and when.
Dr. Lisa Thanjan with the Virginia Department of Health said the main goal of top health experts is to keep hospitality rates low, which is what she said the original COVID-19 booster is still doing.
"I think it's on everyone's radar to really be prepared for what comes next," said Dr. Thanjan.
Dr. Thanjan said in the last meeting with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), leaders with the organizations recommended manufacturers work on an entirely new booster, with a component to fight subvariants of the virus, like Omicron.
"Really, they're seeing if there's evidence out there that immunity is waning to a point where people are getting severely ill," Dr. Thanjan explained. "We're going to have to wait to see what that data shows. We're going to have to wait and see who would really benefit from this modified booster if and when it becomes available."
However, Dr. Thanjan said her main concern is when we enter the fall season. She said top health experts are focusing on the bigger picture in tackling the COVID-19 virus.
"The plan for boosters in the fall is where we really have to start thinking about the long-term plan," said Dr. Thanjan. "This virus is continuing to evolve, and we have to develop strategies and vaccines that are a better match for the current situation."
She said people who are under the age of 50, not immunocompromised, and are up to date on their vaccines are still at a lower risk of getting severe symptoms. She said she does not see a great concern for those people in this category waiting for the approval of the second booster.
Dr. Thanjan said for people who catch COVID-19 and are at risk for severe illness, there are early treatment options available, one being Paxlovid. She said treatment must be started within days of when you first develop symptoms to be effective.
If you test positive and are concerned about your risk of severe illness, you should contact a healthcare provider as soon as possible to discuss treatment. People can visit the VDH website to learn more about these treatments.
Dr. Thanjan said no matter your COVID-19 vaccination status, you can help avoid the spread by washing your hands and social distancing.