RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – If you know people coming down with COVID-19 right now, you’re not alone. The virus is on the rise in the Triangle, but new boosters are available for people who want them. So what can people expect from the new shot?

As we head toward fall, doctors say the Triangle is seeing an increase in COVID cases.

Dr. David Wohl, an infectious disease expert with UNC Health, noted “We know that there’s a surge right now.”

He added that the booster is a good match for the COVID variant that is currently the most common.

“This is an improvement of the vaccines we’ve had before and it’s a good match for what’s circulating around better than the previous vaccines,” he explained.

He doesn’t expect people to notice any major differences with this vaccine compared to previous ones when it comes to reactions or side effects, and he says it’s fine to go ahead and get the COVID booster at the same time as the flu shot.

“I think now is a pretty good time to get both of them,” he said.

For people who’ve recently had COVID, though, he says it makes sense to wait a few months to get a booster. “If you had the dominating variant right now, chances are you will not get infected. You’ve kind of been auto-vaccinated against that variant for the future,” he said. “Now, if another variant comes along, all bets are off.”

Scientists are watching another variant with more mutations to see how it will respond to the vaccine, but so far, Wohl says it is unclear whether it will become common or only occasionally.

“It’s not the super-spreading variant that we’re seeing right now. This is not a dominant variant. It’s just something that’s on the horizon. It’s being picked up here and there,” he said.

He added that it’s important to always be on the alert in case a variant does evade vaccines and prior immunity so that scientists can respond.

For people who do get sick, Dr. Wohl said it’s important to remember there are treatments available, and most Americans qualify for them.

“Probably makes you less infectious quicker and decreases your risk of long COVID,” he noted. “It’s pretty well-tolerated and if you don’t tolerate it you stop taking it.”

Most health insurance plans cover the vaccine. If you don’t have insurance there are options and click here to find out more.