Phoebe doctor talks getting vaccinated as COVID numbers are rising again

Hospitals are seeing an increase in the number of COVID cases.
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 5:13 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - It’s almost time to get the flu shot, and also, new COVID boosters are coming out soon. Many people are concerned about the vaccines.

“We obviously have had to do a lot of vaccinations over the last couple of years with COVID-19 being out. And so I think all of our patients are getting a little bit of vaccine fatigue,” Dr. Derek Heard, family medicine practitioner at Phoebe Putney Hospital, said.

Heard said that vaccines are safe and help protect us from different viruses.

“So although patients are getting tired of it, now is not the time to kind of let our foot off of the gas. We need to make sure that we’re getting vaccinated,” he said.

Hospitals are seeing an increase in the number of COVID cases. They are not to the extent that they were in 2020-2022, but the numbers are starting to rise again. That tends to happen seasonally each year at the end of summer and also in the winter, according to Heard.

Getting the new COVID vaccine is going to be something that is important to protect against the new variant.

“Right now, there is the variant, EG .5, that is probably the most predominant strain that we have. But there’s a new one, BA 2.86, that’s coming out that is also going to be of concern we’re seeing in about seven states right now,” he said.

Heard said that they expect that the BA 2.86 variant is going to become more prevalent. They want to make sure that everyone is given the opportunity to have their best chance at not getting the serious illness, and that’s where the vaccines come in.

Many people are also concerned about taking the COVID and flu vaccines at the same time.

“Oh, it’s definitely safe” Heard said. “The nice thing about both the COVID vaccine formulation and the flu vaccine formulations is that they are not made with live viruses, so there is no risk of there being an interaction with that.”

The CDC said that it’s safe to take both vaccines at the same time.

“However, if a patient is saying that, ‘hey, I’m not quite comfortable taking both vaccines at the same time.’ here I generally say is that if you want to take one and then come back within two weeks to take the other, that’s perfectly okay. But again, it has been noted by the CDC that it is safe to take both vaccines at the same time because neither one is made with a live virus,” he said.