Despite Vaccines, COVID-19 Is Still Out There

Residents are urged to get regular vaccinations, take  other measures to slow the spread of this  virus.

Baltimore, Md (KM) It seems like COVID-19 is under control with the availability of vaccines and actions people are taking to avoid spreading or contracting the virus. But Dr. Clare Rock, Associate Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins Medical School, says the virus is still out there, and can make people sick.

“People who contract COVID can still experience severe illness that can lead to hospitalization or even death,” she said. “And of  those that recover, even if they have a mild case, they can experience lingering symptoms or long COVID that can persist for many months.”

Dr. Rock says it’s still important for everyone to keep up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines. “If your last vaccine was before September, 2022, and you have not gotten an updated vaccine, it’s really time to go and get one now,,” she says. “And this still applies to people who’ve already gotten their primary COVID-19 vaccine series.”

The new vaccines, she says,  are very effective against the omicron variant of COVID-19.

Dr. Rock says those most vulnerable to COVID-19 are individuals 65 and older, and persons with compromised immune systems. But she says everyone who can should get their  COVID shots. “Those who  are unvaccinated are actually more likely that those who are vaccinated to contract long COVID. So another great reason to make sure that you’re up to date with your COVID-18 M vaccines,” she says.

Long COVID is characterized by lingering  symptoms after a COVID infection. “And these symptoms can include things like fatigue or tiredness, pain, trouble breathing, difficulty concentrating, irregular heartbeat or palpitations, and many more types of symptoms,” says Dr. Rock.

In addition to staying up to date on your vaccines, Dr. Rook says it’s also important to take precautions to avoid contracting or spreading COVID-19. “Considering masking and it does add another layer of protection, especially when people are in indoor spaces and communities where COVID is circulating and spreading,” she says.

But there are those who say they’re tired of masking, social distancing and other measures they had to practice back in 2020 and 2021 to help slow the spread of COVID-19. “None of us can predict the future. But we do know COVID remains a significant health issue in the United States, and it’s still actually impacting a lot of people’s lives and causing some of these severe illnesses,”: Dr. Rock responds.

She expects getting our COVID shots will probably be part of our vaccine regime for years to come. “I think it’s likely that that’s going to be the case,” she says. “That there will be a regular recommendation for COVID vaccine into the future.”

By Kevin McManus