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Local experts urge public to get newly approved COVID-19 vaccines

Max Schulte

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that everyone 6 months and older get an updated COVID-19 vaccine to protect against serious illness this fall and winter season.

The updated vaccines, produced by Pfizer and Moderna, were approved by the FDA on Monday and are expected to be available later this week. Researchers said the shots have met safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality standards, and will protect against current circulating variants.

The CDC advised those who have not been immunized within the past two months to get an updated COVID-19 vaccine.

“These vaccines are most effective, not at stopping infection, but at stopping the severe infections — therefore hospitalizations and subsequent deaths as well,” said Dr. Edward Walsh, UR Medicine infectious disease specialist.

People 75 years and older, those with heart and lung diseases, and individuals who are overweight still face higher risks from an infection, Walsh added.

Walsh said people who have been recently infected by the virus are likely to have developed some sort of immunity, but with more than 20 strains of the virus currently circulating, the best protection will come from the updated vaccine.

“If you were to get the old vaccine again, even though it would have some benefit, it won't be as good as this new one,” Walsh said. “The old one's gone. We don't want to use it. You want to use this new one.”

Dr. Michael Mendoza, Monroe County’s public health commissioner, said the public should expect to see more of these vaccine rollouts in the future.

“We're getting into what we think will be an annual COVID vaccine, much like the influenza vaccine,” he said.

Racquel Stephen is a health and environment reporter. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of Rochester and a master's degree in broadcasting and digital journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.