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Northeast Ohio doctor encourages new COVID-19 booster amid rise in cases

COVID-19 cases in Ohio have increased by 1,000 from last week.

CLEVELAND — A jump in COVID-19 cases has Ohioans concerned, especially since the numbers in the summer were low.

"Yeah, so the numbers are going up, but in truth, they had nowhere to go butt up. They were at rock bottom through the summer with whole stretches of weeks with no cases detected, at least up here in Northeast Ohio. There were pockets, you know, here and there through the state. But here in Northeast Ohio we had virtually, I won't say zero COVID, but almost as close as you can get to zero COVID. So really there was nowhere for them to go but up. So yes, cases are rising, it's not unexpected," Dr. Amy Edwards, pediatric infectious disease specialist with University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital said.

Cases in Ohio spiked by almost 1,000 in the past week. Dr. Edwards says, while she doesn't expect a huge surge in hospitalizations, the rising number are exactly why people should get the new COVID-19 booster. 

"The flu vaccine typically only protects for about five to six months. And this is the same thing. There are some slight variations in variants, so the vaccine variant has been updated, but also immunity wanes. And you know, if we're coming into COVID season, which our best guess is that, that this is gonna be a COVID season, this is the time to get the shot just like you would with influenza," Edwards said.

Some drug stores like CVS have already begun rolling out the new booster, while others, like Discount Drug Mart and Walgreen's have not. Edwards says, if you're wondering, you can get the new booster at the same time as your flu shot. 

And, even if you're already vaccinated, and considered "low risk" for severe COVID, here's why you should get it, according to Edwards:

"Is the vaccine perfect? No. But will it protect against severe disease and hospitalization? Yes. So particularly for those people who are high risk, they should get vaccinated. But really we all should because the thing to remember is up to half of adults who are hospitalized with COVID have no known prior risk factors. So yes, their risk was lower because they had no risk factors, but it wasn't enough," Edwards said. "And they still ended up in the hospital and up to a third of children who were admitted with COVID, even with severe COVID into the ICU, had no prior risk factors. So there's no way to know which quote unquote healthy person isn't going to have a good course with COVID. And so it's best to be safe and get vaccinated."

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