COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) — While many Americans have grown weary of hearing about COVID-19, public health authorities say the virus still poses a threat to certain people.
The director of the Ohio Department of Health said he is relieved that so far this year, COVID cases have not spiked, nor has there been a surge in cases of RSV or hospitalizations from the flu.
“This is all encouraging news,” said ODH Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff during a Zoom meeting with reporters on Friday. “However, we need to recognize that none of these respiratory viruses have magically disappeared.”
Vanderhoff said, on average, as many of 100 Ohioans die each week from COVID-19, and he maintains the virus and the flu continue to pose a threat to certain people.
“That’s especially our population who have underlying immune problems, severe underlying health conditions and those over the age of 65,” said Vanderhoff.
That’s why public health authorities are urging Ohioans to get updated booster shots for the COVID vaccine.
“As of November 2022, the CDC reported that people who have received the updated booster were 12.7 times less likely to die than those who were unvaccinated. But the CDC reports that those who received the updated booster were 2.4 times less likely to die than those who had only completed their primary series of the vaccine.” said Vanderhoff.
Public health authorities say the booster might not prevent you from getting COVID, but it will help your body fight the effects of the virus, and avoid the risk of becoming seriously ill.
“Yet only 15% of Ohioans have received an updated booster and, perhaps most importantly, only about 41% of Ohioans who are 65 or older have received it — which is leaving too many people vulnerable,” said Vanderhoff.
ODH says booster shots are available at pharmacies across the state, and many of them welcome walk-in vaccinations.
“Our message today: ‘Get the shot. It could save you from serious illness or a hospital stay, and it could save your life,'” said Vanderhoff.
Vaccines and boosters shots are also available at local health departments across the state.