UVA Health experts weigh in on COVID-19 vaccine boosters and holiday travel guidance

Published: Dec. 17, 2021 at 3:22 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - With the holidays right around the corner, medical experts are warning of a COVID-19 winter surge. They say the time to get boosted before the holidays is running out and when you do, the mRNA vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna are now preferred over Johnson and Johnson.

“The rate of blood clots due to the Johnson and Johnson vaccine were higher than originally seen in some of the early reports. Still, it is a rare event, but they are higher and it led to a change in stance,” Dr. Costi Sifri of University of Virginia Health said.

If you recently got the Johnson and Johnson vaccine experts say to monitor for signs of blood clots which include shortness of breath or swelling.

“If you’re looking at getting a booster and you received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, you can and we would recommend that you do get a booster with a mRNA vaccine like the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine,” Sifri said.

Dr. Sifri says it is essential to get vaccinated and boosted to protect against a potential winter surge. “We are anticipating that we’re going to see more cases and I think that the likelihood is that’s going to translate into more hospitalizations and deaths.”

That spike may come as the travel surge gets underway and that decision to travel will depend on your individual risk factors.

“If we are seeing surging cases in parts of the country, and we’re certainly seeing that in the Northeast and upper Midwest right now, you may need to make some decisions about what is safe for you,” Sifri said. “The time for getting boosters to prepare yourself for the holiday season is starting to run out so get your boosters now, it takes a little bit of time for that booster to take effect and to boost your immune system.”

UVA Medical Center says it is remaining stable with the amount of COVID-19 patients in its care with numbers in the upper 30s, about equally split between ICU and acute care.

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