By Wendy Roche

When will the pandemic end? Will we always need boosters?

Lorna Fitzpatrick, M.D. Univera Healthcare

Information about the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be changing daily. Univera Healthcare’s Dr. Lorna Fitzpatrick has answers to common questions. The following information is current, as of 3/10/22.

Q: Dr. Fitzpatrick, we keep hearing about the COVID-19 pandemic becoming an “endemic.” What does that mean?

An endemic happens when a virus begins to spread less, and in ways we can predict. But it doesn’t mean it fully goes away. While talk of an endemic sounds promising, we aren’t there yet. Continue to focus on Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended preventive measures such as vaccinations and masking.

Q: Why should people get vaccinated and boosted if they can still get sick?

Being vaccinated and boosted helps to lower your risk of getting and spreading the virus. And if you do come down with COVID-19, research shows vaccines will protect you from a serious illness, hospitalization, and even death.

Q: Will we always need boosters?

Right now, we just don’t have that answer. Viruses constantly change, or mutate, and COVID-19 is no exception – as we have learned from the recent Delta and Omicron strains. It’s important to stay current with the CDC recommendations, and currently that includes a booster shot for every vaccinated person age 12+. If you are unsure of when you are booster eligible, reach out to your doctor or pharmacist.

Q: Now that mask mandates are being lifted, should I continue to wear one, even if the place I am going doesn’t require them?

If you have a compromised immune system, it’s a good idea to continue to wear a well-fitting mask in all places, even if you have been vaccinated. But, as mask mandates are lifted, the best advice is to do what you feel is safest for you and your household.

Q: What advice do you have for people who are having trouble coping with ongoing sadness or anxiety as a result of the pandemic?

First, let me stress that you are not alone. Talk with family and friends or a provider about your feelings – you may be surprised to hear they feel the same. Check if your health insurance provides access to licensed therapists and psychiatrists. Many offer telehealth options.

Q: What advice do you have for people who have avoided in-person medical visits because of the pandemic?

In a December 2021 survey of upstate New York adults conducted by Univera Healthcare, 41 percent of respondents reported avoiding an in-person health care visit due to COVID concerns within the past six months. It’s time to get back on track with all recommended preventive health screenings and dental visits. Call your provider today to schedule these appointments.

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Wendy Roche is Marketing Manager at Univera Healthcare