COVID hospitalizations remain high as Ohio celebrates 1 year with vaccines

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Dawn Wooley, a Wright State University professor with a doctorate in virology, discusses the likelihood of a winter surge in COVID-19 in Ohio.

State encourages Ohioans to get boosters for extra protection against virus

While Ohio is celebrating the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 vaccine’s arrival, the state’s hospitalizations and ICU admissions are approaching the peaks reported during the winter surge.

“We’re in a very serious situation,” said Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff. “Our number of patients in the ICU is almost as bad as it has ever been throughout the entire pandemic.”

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On Wednesday, Ohio had 4,735 coronavirus patients hospitalized, with 1,177 in ICUS and 741 on ventilators, according to ODH. At its peak, Ohio reported 1,318 ICU admissions nearly a year ago, Vanderhoff said.

Health experts are urging Ohioans to get vaccinated and receive their booster dose as officials work to learn more about the latest variant, omicron, and as the delta variant continues to drive an increase in cases and hospitalizations.

More than 6.8 million Ohioans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 62% of eligible residents 5 and older have started the vaccine series.

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“This is simply tremendous, but we know that our work isn’t finished,” Vanderhoff said.

He added it’s important for those who have already been vaccinated to also get boosters.

The initial vaccine series teaches our bodies the appropriate immune response to COVID, but sometimes that immunity can wane over time, Vanderhoff said. Booster shots help remind your body how to protect you from the virus.

Initial research also indicates that booster doses offer more protection against the omicron variant.

“Boosters allow our body to fight covid-19 at the peak of protection, whether it’s the dominant delta variant that we see now or the emerging omicron variant,” Vanderhoff said.

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In addition to vaccines and boosters, Ohioans should also consider wearing face masks and social distancing while in public or large gatherings.

Between the holidays, flu season and colder temperatures, Dr. Steven Gordon of the Cleveland Clinic Department of Infectious Disease said health care workers are preparing for a “tidal wave” of respiratory viruses.

With staffing shortages and many health care workers experience burnout from the pandemic, Gordon stressed the importance of taking the steps to protect yourself and those around you from COVID.

“The Ohio Department of Health, [Gov. Mike DeWine] and hospitals across the state have not been idle in terms of addressing this,” Vanderhoff said of staffing shortages.

The state’s hospitals are working to share resources to ensure every patients gets the care they need. However, some facilities have paused elective procedures and surgeries.

“We’ve got tools, we need to put the tools to work and we will get through this,”Vanderhoff said. “Now is not the time to put the foot off the gas pedal.”

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