COVID-19 is still circulating at low levels in the community and has led to 495 deaths so far this year.
The county has been seeing an increase in the daily case rate, but Alameda County Health Officer Nicholas Moss said at a recent community advisory group meeting that the daily case rate is still nowhere near as high as it was in mid-summer. There has also been an increase in the number of hospitalizations, indicating COVID-19 is circulating more in the community.
About 83.6% of the county is fully vaccinated while 69.7% are fully vaccinated and got their first booster shot. However, only about 19.2% of the county has gotten the updated bivalent booster shot.
“The bivalent COVID-19 vaccines include a component of the original virus strain to provide broad protection against COVID-19 and a component of the omicron variant to provide better protection against COVID-19 caused by the omicron variant,” according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “These are called bivalent COVID-19 vaccines because they contain these two components. A bivalent COVID-19 vaccine may also be referred to as “updated” COVID-19 vaccine booster dose.”
Other viruses like RSV and influenza are also circulating right now, Moss said, and RSV season started early this year.
Dr. Angela Branche, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Rochester, said RSV, which is a winter virus, has been acting particularly strangely during a SciLine media briefing earlier this year.
“I would say there was a very abnormal pattern where we were seeing high rates of infection in children in the summer months and in the early fall,” Branche said. ” … We don’t really see it circulating at least here in the United States and the northern hemisphere when the weather’s warm. And so, to have had sort of those bursts of infections in young kids at that abnormal period was really sort of interesting and it sort of makes us rethink everything we think we know about RSV. And now what we’re seeing with RSV is we’re seeing higher numbers of cases in older adults. So, that abnormal out of season burst of RSV was really in children this summer. Whereas this winter, the cases that we’re seeing seems to be in the group that we usually see it in which is older adults when adults get infected.”
There is no vaccine for RSV yet, but Moss said perhaps there will be for a future season.
Moss recommended residents who want to avoid RSV, flu and COVID-19 this winter:
- Stay home when sick;
- Stay up-to-date on COVID-19 and flu vaccines;
- Keep gatherings on the smaller side or in outdoor or well-ventilated areas;
- Wear masks;
- Test for COVID-19;
- And get treatment when they need it.