Sep 13, 2023 - News

New COVID vaccines coming as cases rise in Texas

Syringes in a tray.

Another one. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

COVID cases are on the rise, but only 3% of Texans are up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccinations, per the latest CDC estimates.

Driving the news: The Food and Drug Administration approved updated COVID-19 vaccines this week targeting the XBB.1.5 variant, the dominant strain circulating this summer.

  • The variant remains the dominant strain in Texas, but cases of the EG.5 omicron descendant are increasing.

Why it matters: Just 18% of Americans say they are worried about contracting COVID, suggesting people may be less interested in getting the updated vaccines.

State of play: This fall could bring another tripledemic, a confluence of respiratory illnesses including COVID, the seasonal flu and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

  • The viruses have similar symptoms, making it tough to discern which disease sickens us without robust testing.

Threat level: There was a dramatic increase in RSV cases last year, which may provide some immunity this year, Trish Perl, a professor of medicine at UT Southwestern, tells Axios.

  • But it's difficult to predict how serious RSV, new coronavirus strains or the latest influenza strain will be.
  • Plus, COVID tracking has dropped off significantly since the national public health emergencies ended May 11.

Of note: An RSV vaccine has been approved for babies under 1, pregnant women and people over 60.

By the numbers: New coronavirus cases in Texas have more than doubled in the past month.

  • Yes, but: That's still below the more than 59,000 new cases reported in the week ending Sept. 5, 2022.

What they're saying: "Be respectful of the people around you, and don't go into work when you're sick," Perl says.

The bottom line: Public health experts recommend getting the flu vaccine and an updated COVID shot this month or in October before the illnesses become more prevalent later in the year.

What's next: The new vaccine could be available in pharmacies as soon as this week after Centers for Disease Control advisers voted Tuesday to recommend the updated vaccines be given to anyone over 6 months old.

  • They no longer recommend the bivalent vaccine that has been available for the past year.

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