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COVID-19 hospitalizations up on New York, Long Island in recent weeks, state figures show


New coronavirus hospitalizations have climbed in New York over the last few weeks, leading many physicians to continue urging people to get a booster.

But some experts say the timing of the next jab is based on an individual’s personal health picture and other factors.

As of Tuesday, the seven-day statewide average of new COVID-19 hospitalizations was the highest since March, coming in at a rate of 0.77 for every 100,000 people, state data shows. In July of last year, the highest seven-day average was 0.31 per 100,000 residents.

On Long Island on Friday, those rates were 1.17 per 100,000, up from 0.33 that day in the prior year. As of Tuesday, 213 were newly hospitalized for COVID-19 in New York, and 48 of those cases were out of Long Island, state data shows.

   WHAT TO KNOW

  • New coronavirus hospitalizations have climbed in New York over the last few weeks, leading many physicians to continue their calls for people to get a booster.
  • Some physicians say the timing of the next jab is based on personal health and other factors.
  • As of Tuesday, the seven-day statewide average of new COVID-19 hospitalizations was the highest since March. 

The current figures do not outpace those of 2022, and those who currently contract the virus tend to be less likely to die because of available treatments such as the antiviral Paxlovid and prior vaccination, experts say.

Still, physicians say the current uptick — likely fueled by factors such as waning vaccine immunity and new, more evasive coronavirus subvariants — is concerning.

Getting a booster, they say, is important. However, some experts say the timing of getting the shot varies and is based on factors such as whether a person is immunocompromised, over 65, or is caring for a vulnerable person.

Experts say there will likely be an updated vaccine in the fall that might be better suited to fight against the newer subvariants, leaving many with a choice.

“In exact timing [of getting another vaccination], I think it’s all dependent on how vulnerable you think you are, what your plans are for the summer and what your plans are for the fall,” said Dr. Stuart Ray, a medicine and infectious diseases professor at Johns Hopkins University.

In the future, Ray hopes to use genetic information to predict the risk of a severe COVID-19 infection for vulnerable groups, such as immunocompromised people.

Experts say a vaccine dose provides protection for a few months, and an additional dose can usually be spaced out by three months.

Dr. Bruce Farber, chief of epidemiology and public health with Northwell Health, said he would tell people to wait until the possible updated vaccine, except for certain groups that include those who are highly immunosuppressed and those who are unvaccinated. “I’m recommending, for the most part, with … rare exceptions, to just hang in there until then,” he said in a phone interview.

But Dr. Alan Bulbin of Catholic Health said people may be able to get vaccinated now and in the fall. “If you are one of these at-risk groups, there’s no downside in my mind of getting the already existing vaccine,” he said. “Any immunity, at this point … is better than none,” said Bulbin, infectious disease director at St. Francis Hospital.

Yet many Americans have thus far avoided getting an updated coronavirus vaccine. As of mid-May, roughly 22% of all adults had the 2023-2024 coronavirus vaccine, according to weekly estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Paul Mustacchia, chair of the Department of Medicine at Nassau University Medical Center, warned that the coronavirus can be unpredictable. Now is a good time to get vaccinated if it has been several months since the last dose, especially those who are obese or chronically ill, he said. 

“The primary concern is that we don’t often know how COVID is going to behave,” he said.



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