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Bivalent COVID Vaccine for Kids, When Shots Could Begin – NBC Chicago

As the cold weather picks up, and as influenza and respiratory viruses like RSV begin to crop up, Chicago’s top doctor is stressing the importance of all eligible age groups getting the new bivalent COVID booster, which is now available for children as young as 5.

Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:

“It’s More Important Than Ever to Do This,” Chicago’s Top Doc Says of New COVID Booster

As the cold weather picks up, Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady stressed the importance of staying healthy ahead of the holidays, saying “You can get your COVID vaccine and your flu vaccine, and get one in each arm if you want. It’s more important than ever to do this.”

Arwady said that any surge in COVID cases could potentially cause serious strain on the health care system if flu season is bad and noted that her concern for kids is rising with RSV cases already spiking among younger populations.

“We’re already seeing a big surge in respiratory viruses broadly, even before flu has seriously kicked in,” she said. “We’re seeing our pediatric hospitals fill with kids getting admitted with RSV and other childhood viruses.”

In an interview Thursday morning with NBC 5’s Lauren Petty, Arwady stressed that the new COVID booster being available for children as young as 5 is critical to preventing a possible surge the next few months.

“Everybody getting [the booster] is how we’re going to hopefully stay out of trouble here this fall and winter,” she said.

Read more here.

Chicago’s Top Doc Says New Bivalent Shots For Kids as Young As 5 Could Start Monday

The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control both on Wednesday gave the green light for children as young as 5 to receive the new bivalent COVID booster shots, which previously were only available to those 12 and over.

The updated booster doses, which were tweaked to specifically target the omicron COVID variant and now-dominant highly contagious subvariants, originally rolled out in September. Officials have recommended that those eligible receive their booster shots prior to Halloween, in an effort to provide extra protection heading into the winter season and upcoming holidays.

Read more here.

Chicago’s Top Doctor Expects Winter COVID Surge, But How Bad Will It Be?

Chicago’s top doctor said she believes a COVID surge is on the horizon this winter, but will it be as bad as previous surges?

As variants begin to shift heading into cooler months, experts have cautioned that the potential for another omicron-like mutation could threaten another wave.

Read more here.

What to Know as FDA, CDC Authorize New Bivalent Boosters for Kids as Young as 5

U.S. regulators on Wednesday authorized new bivalent COVID booster shots for children as young as 5, expanding eligibility for the omicron-specific vaccines from the previous minimum of 12 years old.

The new booster doses, which were tweaked to specifically target the omicron COVID variant and now-dominant highly contagious subvariants, originally rolled out for those 12 and older in September. Officials hope that expanding eligibility will provide extra protection heading into the winter season and upcoming holidays.

Here’s what to know about the new shots available for children.

What Side Effects Can You Expect With Your COVID Vaccine Booster Shot?

Most Americans are now eligible to receive reformulated COVID-19 booster shots, and many are undoubtedly wondering what kind of side effects they may potentially have to deal with when it comes to the new “bivalent” shots.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration signed off on the new booster shots over the Labor Day weekend. The shots, produced by Pfizer and Moderna, are specifically formulated to offer protection against omicron subvariants of COVID-19, and health experts are urging Americans to receive the shots as soon as possible as cooler weather approaches.

Here’s what we know so far.

Could New COVID Variants Spark Wave Similar to Omicron Last Winter?

For the last few months, experts had expressed optimism that the BA.5 variant represented nearly all COVID cases as new booster shots, specifically designed to target that variant, rolled out.

But now, other omicron subvariants are growing in numbers and BA.5’s dominance is waning just as colder temperatures set in and people head indoors. So what does that mean for the upcoming months, which have historically seen some of the biggest COVID surges of the pandemic so far?

Read more here.

COVID Variant Tracker Shows BF.7, BA.4.6 Continuing to Gain on BA.5 as Dominant Strain

Two subvariants of omicron continued to gain ground this week, while the BA.5 subvariant remains the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the U.S. even as case numbers start to dip.

According to the latest estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the BA.5 subvariant is now responsible for 79.2% of cases in the U.S., down from 81.3% a week ago.

Read more here.

Key Date to Get Your Omicron Booster Shot By Inches Closer, According to White House Doc

Millions of Americans have already received the new, Omicron-targeted bivalent COVID booster, officials say. But many more have yet to get the latest shot — and a key date is coming up.

The booster shot, authorized by Food and Drug Administration and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control in early September, is designed to fight both the omicron variant and original COVID strains. Unlike previous booster shots, anyone over the age of 12-years-old who has received a primary vaccine series is eligible for the new shot.

Read more here.

How Long is COVID Contagious and When Can You Leave Isolation?

COVID-19 remains a concern for many, as it has since the pandemic began, but in recent months, a positive sign has emerged regarding a key virus measurement.

With the most recent variants such as BA.4 and BA.5, the incubation period, the time between when you’re infected to when symptoms appear, has dropped to three days, Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, has said. Most elements with both the aforementioned strains have moved faster compared to others, the doctor noted.

Read more here.

How Many COVID Tests Should You Take Before Determining You Don’t Have the Virus?

COVID testing is the first line of defense against the virus, and the key to its effectiveness may be taking multiple.

Experts caution that one negative test may not be enough to determine if those feeling ill, particularly those who were knowingly exposed to COVID, have stayed clear of infection.

Read more here.

COVID vs. Flu: Determining Your Risk Levels This Fall and Winter and Why They May Be Harder to Compare

As more people shift activities indoors with dropping temperatures across much of the country, health experts are concerned about a potential rise in flu and COVID-19 cases this coming winter.

In each of the last two winters, COVID cases and hospitalizations have dramatically spiked in the state of Illinois, with last winter seeing the switch from the delta variant to the more contagious omicron variant that has since spawned even more contagious subvariants now making up a majority of cases.

This winter, experts are also concerned about a potential sharp rise in flu cases, with a growing expectation that flu cases will rise to pre-pandemic levels.

Read more here.

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