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Biden says pandemic is over, health professionals worry COVID boosters won't be priority

President Biden announced that Americans would be able to receive a third booster shot against COVID-19.
President Biden announced that Americans would be able to receive a third booster shot against COVID-19.

President Joe Biden was met with mixed reactions after stating the pandemic is “over.”

ChristianaCare epidemiologist Dr. Marci Drees is concerned how Biden’s comment will affect vaccinations.

“If you’re running a marathon you wouldn’t stop at mile 26 and say ‘oh I’m done,'" Drees said about pandemic response. "We’re not done with having to deal with COVID. COVID is going to be around for the foreseeable future.”

Drees says there are more tools in the toolbox to fight COVID and prevent more infections and deaths, which she adds is averaging 400 people per day nationwide.

“Some people may say, ‘oh well if President Biden says it's over then I don't need to worry about getting this booster,’" she says. "And that's definitely not what we want people to be thinking.”

Cases surged two winters in a row, so Drees urges Delawareans to get the new bivalent booster and a flu shot now. The COVID shot has proved effective and Drees says boosters will likely become an every-year necessity.

“Just anticipating respiratory virus season and that COVID is going to be one of those respiratory viruses," Drees said. "We don't know yet for sure that that's going to be the ultimate decision will be, to have it only be once a year but I think that’s what everybody is hoping, that this bivalent booster will have enough durability to get people through the winter season and then you’ll be good until the next fall.”

The new bivalent booster targets the original COVID-19 strain and variants of the omicron strain, which make up the majority of COVID cases today.

She says a lot of cases are in people who are unvaccinated, haven't had a booster, or were boosted more than a year ago.

Delaware announced 23 COVID-related deaths earlier this month from a statistical review, and another 13 deaths Friday.

And for anyone who hasn’t had their primary series, and is still wary of the mRNA vaccine, a new alternative called Novavax uses the traditional protein formula like a flu shot.

Rachel Sawicki is Delaware Public Media's New Castle County Reporter. They are non-binary and use they/them pronouns.