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CT doctor explains how to protect yourself, kids from respiratory illness as school resumes

A nurse places a band aid shaped like a crayon on a toddler’s leg after administering a vaccine at Griffin Health’s mobile vaccine clinic at the Windsor Library in 2022.
Ryan Caron King
Connecticut Public
A nurse places a band aid shaped like a crayon on a toddler’s leg after administering a vaccine at Griffin Health’s mobile vaccine clinic at the Windsor Library in 2022.

Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are up nearly 20% nationwide, according to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The uptick in COVID cases and other illnesses also shut down in-person classes in parts of Texas and Kentuckylast month. In Connecticut, health officials are reminding residents how to protect themselves, as students head back to school and new virus variants circulate.

Dr. Luis Diaz Morales, chief medical officer at Charter Oak Health, a federally qualified community clinic in Hartford, joined Lori Mack on Morning Edition.

When should people get a COVID-19 vaccine booster?

Dr. Morales said the new booster, which is expected to be available in late September, is going to offer better protection against new variants than those currently available. He recommends that most people wait for the new booster.

“If somebody is at a very high risk, and they are planning on traveling, for example, they may want to go ahead and get the one that is available,” he said. “Otherwise, I believe that people should wait.”

People who have not been vaccinated yet at all should get the COVID-19 vaccine right now instead of waiting for the booster, according to Dr. Morales.

“People are not as sick as they were at the peak of the pandemic. But we know that this is going to be increasing as the cold weather arrives,” Morales said, noting hospitalizations went up just in the last month. “It's still only about a third of what it was at the same time last year. But we know that it's going to increase.”

Is it okay to get multiple vaccinations at the same time?

There doesn’t seem to be any problem getting a COVID-19 shot, flu shot or RSV vaccine all at the same time, Dr Morales said.

“We're going to have influenza, and we're going to have definitely an uprise of the COVID-19. So our recommendation is [to] get vaccinated against these three of them,” Dr. Morales said. “ It is definitely the best protection that you can have.”

Federally qualified community health centers, like Charter Oak Health, offer vaccinations, free COVID-19 PCR testing and access to therapeutics like Paxlovid for patients testing positive for coronavirus within the first five days of experiencing symptoms.

Lori Connecticut Public's Morning Edition host.

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