Over the past several months, UW Medicine has administered over 20,000 bivalent boosters. Bivalent boosters are an updated COVID-19 vaccination including strains of both the original virus and the omicron variant to better protect against infection.
Over the past several years, UW Medicine clinics, hospitals, and partner sites have provided over 650,000 individuals across Washington state with COVID-19 vaccinations.
“I just really am grateful for all the staff and all the teams at UW Medicine who’ve created these vaccine clinics,” Cynthia Dold, interim president of UW Medicine Hospitals & Clinics, said. “They’ve had such a huge impact on so many lives.”
In addition to providing vaccinations, UW Medicine has also been involved in many other aspects of the pandemic response, from treating patients in UW hospitals to helping develop alternative COVID vaccines and running trials for boosters.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone aged 6 months and older to remain up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines, although whether or not a person is “up to date” depends on risk factors, age, type of vaccine, and recent COVID infections. In general, for those 5 years and older, a bivalent booster is recommended two months after their last vaccine, booster dose, or COVID infection. Exact recommendations can be found on the CDC’s website.
According to the Washington State Department of Health, as of Nov. 12, an estimated 20% of eligible Washingtonians aged 5 and older have received a bivalent booster dose, compared to the 70.0% who completed their primary series. These numbers are slightly higher in King county, wherein 23.7% of those eligible have received a bivalent booster and 83.1% completed their primary series.
Compared to national data provided by the CDC, Washington has a higher booster vaccination percentage than the national average. 10.1% of eligible Americans nationally have received a bivalent booster, and 68.6% have completed their primary series. Despite this, health care facilities in Washington are still very busy.
“[UW Medicine’s] hospitals remain pretty full,” Dold said. “[The] staff is working really, really hard.”
She predicts that it will be a tough fall and winter season for staff dealing with flu, respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, and COVID-19 infections.
RSV specifically has hit young people hard this season, especially when combined with other infections like COVID-19, resulting in overwhelmed emergency and pediatric units in hospitals already suffering from staffing crises across the country. Dold asks that people “stay masked when appropriate, and make sure [they] get [their] vaccines,” to protect themselves and reduce stress on our health care system.
Appointments for vaccinations can be made at the UW Medicine website.
Reach contributing writer Chaitna Deshmukh at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @Chaitna_d
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