White House Covid Coordinator Urges People to Get Vaccinated Before Holidays

White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha at the White House in Washington, October 25, 2022

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

As hospitalizations for Covid and the flu increased in the weeks following Thanksgiving, White House Covid-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said families will be safer for upcoming holiday events if they receive updated vaccines.

This year, for the first time, hospitals faced the simultaneous threat of Covid, influenza and RSV. The spread of influenza and RSV during the pandemic was very low due to widespread masking and social distancing introduced in response to Covid, but as most people return to normal, all three viruses are circulating widely.

As of December 14, the 7-day average weekly number of new Covid cases reached 65,067, down 2.9% from the previous week. according to CDC.

“The good news is that we can prevent these infections from turning into serious illness if people go out and get this updated bivalent vaccine,” Jha said Sunday on ABC’s This Week.

Public health officials said many people are likely more vulnerable to the flu and RSV this year because they haven’t been infected in the past two years, meaning their immunity is lower. Some 23,503 patients have been admitted to hospitals with the flu this week, according to the CDC, while RSV hospitalizations appear to have peaked in some states.

Hospitalizations for people with Covid have averaged more than 5,000 per day, according to the CDC.

“An updated vaccine is needed to keep people out of the hospital,” Jha said. “So we’re claiming we’re at a point where it’s safe to congregate, but there’s still plenty for you to do.”

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