COVID boosters and protecting against long COVID

COVID boosters and protecting against long COVID
Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 9:43 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Studies show the new COVID-19 boosters could help protect against long COVID. With those boosters rolling out, health officials are urging everyone eligible to get those updated Omicron shots.

Health experts told 10/11 NOW that protection from COVID-19 is based on how many vaccinations you receive, and could even help prevent long COVID.

“We continue to see we still have a relatively large proportion of folks who end up developing long COVID,” said Dr. James Lawler, Director of International Programs and Innovation, The Global Center for Health and Security at UNMC.

Dr. Lawler said symptoms of long COVID like fatigue, sleep difficulties, and brain fog can last anywhere from three months to a year and could lead to more severe consequences like neurological and psychiatric issues.

Early studies show that the newly available bivalent omicron boosters could help prevent long COVID. As of now, those 12 and older are eligible to receive those boosters from Pfizer, and 18 and older from Moderna.

“You can’t work like you used to, or study like you used to, or do things that you used to be able to do well,” said CHI’s chief of infectious diseases, Dr. Renuga Vivekanandan.

She said doctors are hoping this inspires more people to get boosted.

Since vaccinations first rolled out in Lancaster County in 2020, over 220,000 people have been fully vaccinated with their initial vaccine, but only about 134,000 booster doses have been administered.

Over the weekend in a 60 Minutes interview, President Biden said the pandemic has come to an end.

“The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with COVID, we’re still doing a lot of work on it, but the pandemic is over,” Biden said.

Dr. Lawler said he disagrees.

“The reality is that in the US still, today, we are continuing to lose between 450 and 500 people from COVID every day,” Lawler said. “So if you think about what that would look like over the course of the year, that’s over 160,000 COVID deaths in a year.”

As flu season approaches, Lawler and Vivekanandan said it’s important to get both your COVID booster and flu shot. They said to make it easier, you can get both at the same time.