August 17, 2023 by
Lucy Gardner Carson
Epidemiologist Timothy Plante ’06, M.D.’10, M.H.S., assistant professor of medicine
(AUGUST 17, 2023) Epidemiologist Timothy Plante ’06, M.D.’10, M.H.S., assistant professor of medicine, spoke with Vermont Public for a Vermont Edition story focusing on the recent uptick in the number of COVID cases and a new, updated vaccine booster that is expected to be available in the fall.
Plante says a new COVID-19 variant, EG.5, is on its way to being the dominant strain in the U.S. The variant is related to others in the omicron family.
“It’s thought to evade antibodies from prior vaccines and prior infections,” he said, which is leading to more cases after a quiet stretch. He notes, however, that EG.5 seems to not be more transmissible than previous variants.
If you received the 2022 booster when it came out, it may be time to get this new one. Plante compared it to the annual flu shot: “The flu shot makes a whole lot of sense to people. ‘Did you get your flu shot this year? Yes or no?’ That’s where we are with COVID shots now, ‘Did you get your COVID shot this year?’ The year starts in the fall for COVID,” he said.
“The shot from last year ... it had a little bit of the original vaccine and it had the BA4/5 variant in it, which is not circulating anymore,” Plante said. “If you were to get it, you probably would ... get a little bit of protection from it. But I think the better bang for your buck is waiting another six weeks, wash your hands, wear a mask, you know, be careful, and get the new vaccine that’s coming out—the third vaccine that’s ever been made—in six weeks, which targets the currently circulating virus. That’s the one we want to be getting into arms.”
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