A new COVID variant poses a threat for senior citizens, according to doctors at the University of Kansas Health System.
Doctors heard at Friday’s news conference that there had been an upswing of COVID patients recently at the health system, with the numbers of COVID patients in the 60s last week. The number of COVID patients was 53 on Monday.
On Friday, doctors heard from Dr. Gregory Poland, vaccinologist at the Mayo Clinic Vaccine Research Group, that the COVID bivalent booster is working to prevent 40 to 50 percent of infection, and its real value is it prevents severe disease, hospitalization and death. That’s the reason to get the vaccine, Dr. Poland said.
He said the Mayo Clinic had seen a 30 percent increase in COVID cases in the past 10 days, along with hospitalizations and admission to the intensive care unit. It was post-Thanksgiving as the Christmas season is starting.
Dr. Poland was concerned they would not be able to offer the best medical care because of all the illness filling up the hospitals, including COVID, flu and RSV.
He was also concerned about a new variant XBB, called the most immune—evasive variant seen to date.
It’s possible some people today may get this COVID variant by Christmas and not be able to enjoy the holidays with their families, instead being hospitalized, he felt.
“So it’s really important that people sort of shake off this COVID fatigue and lethargy and take action to protect themselves. We are not helpless here,” he said.
Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer at KU Health, said senior citizens make up more than 90 percent of the COVID deaths. People need to take precautions when traveling to see grandparents, he added.
The number of COVID deaths for people who are vaccinated has gone up in the fall of 2021, Dr. Stites noted. Three in 10 adults vaccinated and boosted still died of COVID, he added. The number jumped to six in 10 in April.
Only one-third of the people over age 65 have received the bivalent boosters, according to Dr. Stites.
Dr. Jessica Kalendar-Rich, geriatrician at KU Health System, said there is definitely a higher risk for older adults. How people are moving and healthy they are overall are going to affect outcomes, she added.
Older adults are in need of socialization, meeting with their families, and keeping communication going to enhance better mental health, according to Dr. Kalendar-Rich.
In other COVID news, FDA recently approved COVID Omicron vaccinations for children 6 months and older, according to Dr. Dana Hawkinson of the KU Health System.
See more at https://www.facebook.com/kuhospital/videos/2920465108096873.
- Information from KU Health System