Ohioans urged to get booster

Ohioans urged to get booster

Image Credit: File

Ohio Department of Health Director Bruce Vanderhoff and Ohio Department of Aging Director Ursel J. McElroy are urging Ohioans to give themselves maximum protection from the COVID-19 virus by staying up to date with vaccinations including the updated booster.

Vanderhoff said although case counts, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID have not reached levels seen over the past two winters, about 2,500 Americans and 90 Ohioans are dying each week. Also, much of the nation is now seeing a rise in a new, highly contagious variant known as XBB.1.5.

He said those age 65 and older and those who are immunocompromised or have certain chronic conditions are at greater risk for serious illness or death if they have not received the updated booster, which targets the more recent Omicron subvariants.

Data shows 79% percent of Ohioans who have died of COVID have been age 65 and older. While 86.9% of that population is fully vaccinated, only 38% have an updated booster.

That means more than 1.2 million older Ohioans are unvaccinated or not up to date with the booster that was made available in September.

“Based on the numbers, we have not given ourselves every advantage that we could,” Vanderhoff said. “Many of these deaths are preventable.”

ODH recently debuted a public-service announcement aimed at promoting boosters. The ad is appearing on television, radio, social media and billboards. It can be viewed on the department’s YouTube channel.

Vanderhoff said while the vaccines deliver strong cellular immunity crucial to fighting off COVID-19, even that immunity can wane over time, especially as people age. The updated COVID-19 vaccine can provide a boost to that immunity.

“At the start of each new year, many of us resolve to take steps to improve our health, so I hope that more Ohioans will consider getting vaccinated or boosted,” Vanderhoff said. “That clearly is the safest, most reliable way you can reduce your risk of serious illness, hospitalization or even death as a result of the COVID-19 virus.”

Ohioans can search for locations offering the COVID-19 vaccine at gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Older Ohioans or their caregivers seeking more information about vaccination can call 1-866-243-5678 to connect to the local Area Agency on Aging serving their community.