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COVID-19 vaccines look to join the flu as annual preventative shot

Graphic by Natalie Lutz, Orange Media Network
OMN Creative Team

The Center for Disease Control has released approval for a new COVID-19 vaccine, but this vaccine differs from its predecessors in more ways than one.

The CDC’s most recent recommendation requires less consideration about when to time shots and which booster you may be on. This recommendation applies to all individuals over six months old and that have not had a vaccine in the past two months.

“The new COVID-19 vaccine will help protect people against the new virus variants that are circulating this year,” said Hannah Kurtz, Student Health Services registered nurse and vaccine coordinator. “Unfortunately, only relying on previous COVID-19 vaccines will not offer protection from these new variants.”

Vaccines will still be the m-RNA formula made by either Pizer-BioNTech or Moderna. Similar to the annual influenza vaccine, the COVID-19 one is built off of the variant of COVID-19 that was responsible for the most infections that resulted in hospitalizations this year.

Because of this updated approach to tackling the virus, more similarly to other variations of mutating infectious diseases we are accustomed to, the language is shifting away from a “booster.”

“I would say for most people, the current updated COVID-19 vaccine is similar to an annual flu shot,” said Kurtz.

This update comes as nationwide hospitalizations and deaths have been on the rise. In Oregon alone there has been a 38% increase in hospitalizations due to the virus in the past two weeks, according to the New York Times Coronavirus tracker.

Kurtz and Shanilka deSoyza, SHS medical director, say this is part of the reason young and healthy college students should still get the shot. The other reasons being; less severe symptoms if one becomes infected and that previous vaccines will not protect against the mutations that are circulating now.

“Having as many people vaccinated as possible will help prevent spread of the virus to people who are more vulnerable to the illness,” Kurtz and deSoyza said.

According to Kurtz and deSoyza the vaccine will be available at the Health Center provided by Student Health Services but may cost depending on a student’s insurance. The two also noted that when the vaccine is available at SHS that students will just need to book a short appointment online or by calling.

Aside from specifically COVID-19 precautions, deSoyza recommends practicing good personal hygiene and awareness heading into the fall and winter seasons where COVID-19, influenza and RSV cases typically rise.

“Washing your hands often, staying home and covering your coughs and sneezes with your arm when you’re sick and cleaning high-touch surfaces often (such as doorknobs and your phone),” said deSoyza. “These are all especially important tips for college students who might find themselves in close proximity to peers in large classes and in group-living situations.”

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About the Contributor
Riley LeCocq, Editor-in-Chief
Third year Kinesiology major, health policy and management minor (she/her)

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