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As a new variant drives up COVID numbers, is your vaccine still effective?

COVID-19 vaccine
Posted at 11:29 PM, Jul 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-20 23:29:00-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- More than 15 million people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in Virginia, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The shot has been available for the last year and a half.

However, as subvariants emerge and case numbers rise, many may be wondering how effective their vaccine and boosters may be.

CBS News reports that COVID-19 infections are on the rise in at least 40 states, including Virginia. The highly transmissible BA.5 omicron subvariant is currently dominating this surge.

Dr. Brooke Rosshein with the VDH said that it is important to monitor CDC data on spread in your area. In Central Virginia, with just a few exceptions, transmission is high.

For those who have been vaccinated, Dr. Rossheim said the shots are still as effective as this new subvariant continues to surge.

"It's not that the vaccines are not good anymore, it's the fact that SARS COV.2 has changed," Rossheim said. "The vaccines we have now, while they are not as great as we would like in terms of preventing infection, they are very good in terms of preventing severe outcomes," Rossheim said.

These severe outcomes include things like hospitalization, ICU administration or even death.

Rossheim urges those who are eligible to get their booster shot. Those who are 18 to 49 with normal immune systems are eligible for one booster and those who are 50 and up are eligible for two.

"If you've gotten the primary series, then you are considered to be fully vaccinated. If you've gotten the primary series and all the booster shots that you are eligible for, you are then considered to be up to date. We want everybody to be up to date," Rossheim said.

Right now, BA.5 is the most common variant in the United States.

Rossheim said that sometime this fall or winter, experts are anticipating that a new vaccine specifically targeted at omicron will become available.

There will also be another option for vaccination in the coming weeks, according to the CDC.

On Tuesday, the final regulatory approval was given for the Novavax vaccine. While this vaccine has been used in other countries, it would be new in the United States.

Officials are hopeful that those who still have not been vaccinated will consider this an alternative to Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson and Johnson.

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