DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — New data from the White House shows less than five percent of Americans have gotten the new COVID-19 bivalent booster released last month.
With the colder months quickly approaching, local health leaders are urging people to roll up their sleeves.
“You really should be getting this vaccine as we are heading back into increased activity,” said Miami Valley Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Roberto Colon.
Dr. Colon says the new bivalent booster is giving the country a chance to beat COVID-19 this winter, but only if people change their minds.
The CDC reports under 50-percent of eligible Americans have gotten their booster dose and federal data shows most have not received the new bivalent booster. But, Public Health of Dayton and Montgomery County says since the new booster became available on Labor Day weekend, they’ve seen an increase in residents seeking their booster dose.
“We do have them throughput areas in Montgomery County and particularly in areas that people may not have access to a pharmacy or grocery store that provides them, so we’re getting to many locations and being as accessible as we can so people can get their vaccination,” said Public Information Officer PHDMC Dan Suffoletto.
Clark County Combined Health District says the average age of a person seeking their bivalent dose in the county is 69-years-old, but their appointments are filling up fast.
“It feels pretty intense right now, it’s a rush of people that were waiting in the wings for this bivalent vaccine to be available,” said Assistant Health Commissioner CCCHD Chris Cook. “I’m sure that’s going to start dropping off but if we see cases start to tick up as we go indoors, I expect the demand for the bivalent to be steady for a while.”
Dr. Colon believes the biggest challenge to getting more people boosted is fear, or rather lack of it, as many people aren’t as concerned about the virus more than two years into the pandemic.
“People have lost the fear of COVID,” said Dr. Colon. “We don’t know how long people are going to be affected, how many years that complications will be present and increase the risk for other health problems.”
The FDA approved the new bivalent COVID-19 booster dose for children as young as 5-years- old. Local health leaders in the Miami Valley say they anticipate it to have a major impact in school systems.
“Some of those long COVID symptoms are affecting kids at significant rates so even if you have a mild illness, you can still be affected by long-COVID,” said Dr. Colon.
Some Miami Valley health leaders are urging younger kids to get their bivalent dose, to ensure the safety of classrooms this upcoming winter. Cook says Clark County has seen a low turnout of kids getting vaccinated and are hoping going back to school may change their minds.
“When you’re indoors more, things move easier, you get less ventilation, less fresh air so people are thinking about the flu, people are thinking COVID and people should be trying to take the necessary steps to prepare for winter months,” said Cook.
Other health leaders say young children are especially at risk of dealing with long-haul COVID for years to comen and those effects are still unknown.
“Problems when we look at kids with the majority of their lives ahead of them, it’s possible some of these complications can have life altering implications,” said Dr. Colon. “If we have at our disposal a mechanism to reduce chances of any of those things, we really need to be taking that opportunity to prevent all of the kids from picking up this virus.”
The coronavirus dashboard shows 64% of all Ohioans have started the vaccination process.