COVID-19 boosters expected to become routine like flu shots, doctors say

COVID-19 boosters will become as routine as flu shots – that's the word from health officials as the Food and Drug Administration authorized a second booster shot of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines on March 29.

So far, the second boosters are for anyone 50 and up.

The approval comes as a new variant, BA.2, is becoming more dominant across the country.

The good news is that experts are not expecting a huge spike in cases. However, they say it’s not the time to let your guard down and want everyone to continue getting the shots and the boosters.

"We've been at war for almost two years with an invisible threat that's taken the lives of almost a million Americans," said Dr. Richard Carmona, the 17th surgeon general of the United States.

The Arizona Department of Health Services held a COVID-19 virtual town hall to discuss the latest vaccination efforts and offer advice for children ages 5 to 11.

"Look at this virus. This coronavirus is just another threat to our families, to our children. Get your children vaccinated and boosted appropriately because we know that vaccines work. It is just so sound scientifically," Carmona said.

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In total, the state reported about 4,500 new COVID-19 cases in mid-March – that’s compared to our peak back in January when Arizona was seeing more than 20,000 cases a day. Doctors say they’re starting to notice a substantial difference.

"Now when you ask about what’s going on in the hospital, it's night and day. About one month ago, if I had 40 people in the ER, about 30 of them would have COVID with COVID-related complaints, and now it's the opposite. We might have one or two that have COVID and the great majority just have traditional stuff," said Arizona emergency room doctor, Dr. Frank LoVecchio.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the new BA.2 variant is the dominant strain in the country, accounting for nearly 55% of all cases. Experts say it’s more transmissible than previous variants, but Dr. Anthony Fauci says he doesn't expect another surge.

Doctors also say getting COVID-19 boosters will end up being routine like flu shots.

"This is going to be with us forever. Our children, their children. It's going to go on forever. It's very hard for us to100% eradicate this. What you are going to see is little bumps all the time and hopefully, it will be like the flu where we can predict that it's going to come during a certain season," LoVecchio said.

So far, more than 4.3 million Arizonans are fully vaccinated, that’s about 74% of the eligible population.

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