Along with all of the other sicknesses that cold and flu season brings, COVID-19 cases have been on the rise. While luckily not catastrophic in comparison to the massive original Omicron outbreak of late 2021, the surprising post-vaccine Delta outbreak of mid-2021 or the devastating original strain outbreak of early 2020, the uptick has been noticeable. Hospitals have begun to see more cases and, tragically, deaths have started to rise. Fortunately, the FDA has approved of a solution: a new vaccine upgrade.
Recommended for ages 6 months and older,, the new Covid vaccine is based on the virus strain XBB.1.5, according to Johns Hopkins’s Bloomberg School of Public Health. While the vaccine cannot be perfectly tailored to the virus due to constantly changing, studies have found this vaccine to be effective in limiting the virus strain that has been causing such a surprising uptick in cases. Furthermore, the antibodies of the XXB.1.5 strain also respond well to the EG.5 and FL.1.5.1 variants, meaning that the vaccine will likely be able to handle these prevalent strains, as well. The vaccine also generates an immune response to the highly mutated BA.2.8.6 vaccine, which is crucial due to how prone the virus was to changing and potentially developing stronger resistance.
Along with the high increase of vaccines, a change in perspective on how these vaccines are treated has occurred. While the vaccines were originally meant to be boosters — similar to how one would get a booster vaccine for tetanus or meningitis and be fully protected — these vaccines are known as “upgrades.” Upgrade is used as a more accurate term due to the vaccine being constantly upgraded to fight off the newest mutation, as this allows the comparison to instead shift to the flu vaccine. Every year, flu shots are recommended to combat new flu strains as well as to renew a vaccine whose effectiveness and usage would wane with time. This wording generates a new narrative, shifting away from the problem of making the vaccines seem ineffective by comparing them to the typically effective flu vaccines, which work even when they are renewed. Though most people are not in severe danger due to past vaccinations, people with a higher risk of complications — which could lead to serious illness and long-term COVID — are recommended to get their vaccine as quickly as possible to prevent the infection or limit its strength, if nothing else. Regardless, whether it is to avoid being hospitalized for symptoms such as shortness of breath and low oxygen level, or just merely to limit getting sick with symptoms such as sore throat, runny nose, fever, cough, and now even itchy eyes or conjunctivitis, the COVID vaccine is a major recommendation. This also comes alongside the flu vaccine— the safer cold and flu season can be, the better. Limiting hospitalizations can ensure that those in need can get help while keeping the general population healthy. While the COVID-19 pandemic has been declared over, the disease is now still endemic and —like with the flu — it is best to be ready with an upgraded vaccine to tackle any sickness that strikes this season.
Sophomore Chessie Bovasso is a Contributing Writer. Her email is email@example.com.