Preparing for long haul with COVID and mixing vaccines
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Another year of the pandemic and health officials said just about everyone was burned out but COVID-19 had gotten a second wind with the Omicron variant being at least the fifth new variant to emerge.
Dr. Wes Stubblefield with the Alabama Department of Public Health said people should prepare for the long haul.
“COVID-19 may just be with us for a while,” Stubblefield said.
Dr. Stubblefield predicted COVID-19 may become like the flu.
“Just one of the seasonal cold viruses that people get,” Stubblefield said.
Stubblefield explained the public had to get vaccinated or a booster shot to get the best-known protection. However, with breakthrough cases on the rise with the new Omicron variant, he said the public should expect to have some experience with the virus.
“It’s not unreasonable to think that people will, at one point or another, come into contact with COVID-19, especially as we go on in time. The main thing is that for right now, it’s those who are unvaccinated that we worry about because this is still a severe illness,” Stubblefield said.
Stubblefield said even though there was some chatter that the Omicron variant was milder than the Delta variant, no one was really sure because there had not been enough research done on it.
He said those who were vaccinated and were infected with COVID would likely have mild symptoms but the unvaccinated would likely have a far worse experience.
For those who are vaccinated and planning to get a booster, Stubblefield said to think about mixing the vaccines.
It’s called the mix and match.
Studies show mixing booster shots offers more protection against covid and its variants.
An Oxford University study showed mixing Pfizer and Moderna vaccines spur a better immune response.
Dr. Stubblefield said if you got a Johnson and Johnson shot the first-round, mix it with Pfizer or modern to get the best protection.
When you sign up for your booster shot, the vaccinator will naturally go with the type of vaccine that was previously given, Stubblefield explained what you should do if you want to mix them.
“Generally, if you just go to your vaccinator show them your card and just request, like II did, I had Moderna for my primary and I asked for Pfizer, and that’s what I got. So, you can just request whatever, as long as it’s been authorized by the CDC and FDA,” Stubblefield advised.
The CDC recommends booster shots for everyone over 18 at least six months after completing a two-dose course or two months after getting the J & J shot.
Researchers are still looking into how effective vaccines are against the omicron variant but say boosters definitely help.
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