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Greene County in high-risk category for COVID, health experts encourage preventive care

Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine
Claire Myree

Greene County is now in the high-risk category for COVID community transmission. The area was among the counties with the most COVID-19 cases per capitain Ohio last week. The spread of the new BA.5 sub-variant is driving this most recent surge.

Officials say residents of Greene County should wear a mask in indoor public spaces, wash their hands regularly, and stay up to date on vaccines and boosters.

Last month, vaccines were approved for children 6 months to four years old, but vaccination rates in this age group are lower than older age groups. Dr. Don Brannen is the epidemiologist for Greene and Clinton County. He said higher vaccination and booster rates across all eligible age groups is the key.

He also said communities having trust in their government and health officials plays a key part in increasing vaccination rates and lowering transmission.

“This is the first time I've seen such politicization of disease outbreaks,” Brannen said. “The less community transmission we have, the less chance there is for mutations to occur.”

It's been over two years since the pandemic started in 2020, but continued surges show the pandemic has not yet reached its end. The continued emergence of new strains has some people wondering about the vaccine's efficacy against a variety of strains.

Brannen said current vaccines may be less effective at preventing transmission of the virus, but it is extremely effective at preventing severe infection and hospitalization.

“Pfizer, Moderna and other pharmaceutical companies are working on vaccines that will be even more effective against seasonal emergent strains of COVID-19,” Brannen said. “I would anticipate that soon there will be an annual vaccine just like there is for the flu.”

Brannen said the MRNA technology used in the current vaccines allows scientists to quickly adjust the shots to combat any particular strain, but his hope is that they will develop one that will be equally effective against all strains.