Preventive measures protect the people most vulnerable to severe illness and hospitalization due to COVID-19
ERIE COUNTY, NY— Recent major hospital systems report that the majority of patients who are currently hospitalized for COVID-19 illness are age 55 years and older. Older adults continue to be at most risk for severe disease and hospitalization due to COVID-19 infection.
“COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness can decrease over time, especially for older adults and individuals with immunocompromising conditions,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein. “Also, the immune response to a COVID-19 vaccine may not be as strong in these populations. The ‘boost’ of a booster dose does exactly what it says, adding another level of protection against moderate and severe illness.”
“If you are eligible for a booster dose, now is the time to get one,” she continued. “These boosters work with the previous vaccine series to improve your body’s ability to recognize the novel coronavirus, and reduce your risk of becoming very ill. Individuals over the age of 50 years and those 12 years and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should ensure they receive not only their first, but also their second COVID-19 vaccine booster dose.”
Erie County is currently experiencing among the highest COVID-19 reported case rates in the United States. Confirmed Erie County daily COVID-19 case reports topped 1,000 cases for May 11, the first time since January 2022. That large number of cases does not include any of the at-home COVID-19 test results, as an unknown number of positive COVID-19 cases go unreported.
In communities with a “high” COVID-19 level, as Erie County since around April 22, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend wearing a well-fitting mask indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status (including in K-12 schools and other indoor community settings).
At all COVID-19 community levels, people can wear a mask based on personal preference, informed by personal level of risk. Although there is not a mask mandate in Erie County, people with symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask. Further, people who live with or care for older adults or individuals with immunocompromising conditions should strongly consider incorporating the CDC’s recommended individual and household COVID-19 prevention behaviors into their daily routines or business practices.
ECDOH maintains free COVID-19 diagnostic testing six days a week; see the full schedule at the ECDOH COVID-19 Testing web page or call (716) 858-2929 for details. A full schedule of ECDOH COVID-19 vaccine clinics is published at www.erie.gov/vax, with Vax Visits (at-home vaccination visits) available to any Erie County resident age 5 years and older by calling (716) 858-2929.
Individual and Household COVID-19 Prevention Behaviors
- Wear a well-fitting mask indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status (including in K-12 schools and other indoor community settings)
- Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines
- Get tested if you have symptoms
- If you are immunocompromised or high risk for severe disease
- Wear a mask or respirator that provides you with greater protection
- Consider avoiding non-essential indoor activities in public where you could be exposed
- Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to take other precautions (e.g., testing)
- Have a plan for rapid testing if needed (e.g., having home tests or access to testing)
- Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you are a candidate for treatments like oral antivirals, PrEP, and monoclonal antibodies
- If you have household or social contact with someone at high risk for severe disease
- consider self-testing to detect infection before contact
- consider wearing a mask when indoors with them
- Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters
- Maintain improved ventilation throughout indoor spaces when possible
- Follow CDC recommendations for isolation and quarantine, including getting tested if you are exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms of COVID-19.