GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Local health experts are urging people to get vaccinated before going home for the holidays.
Vidant Medical Center officials said based on data they’ve seen, only about 10 percent of people they’ve vaccinated have gotten their boosters.
Hospitals across the country are filling up. Health officials expect it could get worse in the new year after large holiday gatherings take place.
Vidant doctors said getting your COVID-19 vaccine and booster shots can help ease the strain on the healthcare system.
“If you get the booster, even if you get omicron, you’re less likely to get a severe case and require hospitalization,” said. Dr. Keith Ramsey, Vidant’s Medical Director of Infection Control. “I think at this point, we’ll take that.”
Omicron is now the dominant coronavirus variant in the U.S. We haven’t seen much of it yet in Eastern North Carolina.
“98.5 percent of the sequenced COVID isolates in eastern North Carolina are still delta,” said Dr. Ramsey.
There are currently 15 COVID patients in the ICU at Vidant. Eleven are on ventilators and all are unvaccinated.
“We typically see bumps in cases particularly when folks gather and travel together inside for lengths of time–Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years,” said Ramsey.
Before you head home for the holidays, doctors are asking you to do something.
“Get that booster,” said Dr. Ryan Gallaher, Vidant’s Medical Director of Infectious Disease. “If you’ve had two shots, get a third.”
Which booster should you get?
“The one that’s at hand is better than nothing at all,” said Gallaher.
If you do have a choice, experts recommend Pfizer or Moderna.
“The recent CDC guidance that we’re showing preference toward mRNA platforms. such as Pfizer and Moderna,” said Dr. Gallaher.
Last week, The CDC announced it recommends people get the mRNA vaccines instead of Johnson & Johnson.
“There were more reports of complications since last spring when they reintroduced the vaccine,” said Ramsey. “More cases of blood clots and some deaths.”
Early data from Pfizer shows three doses of its vaccine improve protection against the omicron strain.
“It’s very easy to get your booster or your primary series,” said Gallaher. “Get your shot in general.”
Testing sites across the country are seeing long lines ahead of Christmas. Vidant officials said they’ve seen a slight increase in people coming to get tested. They’re expecting more after the holidays.