Chris Schulz Published

Potential For Combined COVID-19, Flu Season Worries State Leaders

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Gov. Jim Justice read 20 more COVID deaths, now totaling 7470 as the state edges closer to 7500 COVID-19 deaths.

Coronavirus czar Dr. Clay Marsh discussed the emergence of a new COVID omicron subvariant, named BQ1.1, that is gaining activity in Europe and starting to take hold in the U.S. as well.

“We know that this variant is a descendant of the omicron BA.5 variant, so it makes it even more important for us to consider getting the new omicron booster shot as soon as you are eligible,” he said.

On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded the use of updated (bivalent) COVID-19 vaccines to children ages five through 11 years.

“Within the next 24 hours we will have updated the vaccine calculator to also make sure that your children five years old or over who might be eligible for the new Omicron booster shot will have that opportunity,” Marsh said.

Marsh went on to discuss recent findings from a Scottish study, which found that about 20 percent of subjects with COVID-19 had symptoms that did not resolve by the end of the study, and about 40 percent of subjects with COVID-19 had symptoms that maintained four to six months after the initial illness ended.

“These are people with mild COVID,” Marsh said. “This study also found that getting up to date COVID booster shots reduced the risk of developing these symptoms, even if you got COVID, by about half.”

Ret. Maj. Gen. Jim Hoyer said state leaders are also watching the upcoming flu season. He urged West Virginians to also get flu shots to help avoid more strain on the state’s hospital system.

“Flu season in Australia, which is kind of a mirror for us, was not not good,” Hoyer said. “In talking to a hospital administrator this morning the concern that we have amongst our hospitals is that combination of omicron and flu and the challenges and the stress that is going to put on our system.”

Justice ended the press conference by highlighting continued vaccination efforts in the state.

“Every day, Gen. Hoyer’s saying somebody else comes and gets their first shots,” he said. “And surely to God above, a whole bunch are coming down getting their booster. We want more, but a whole bunch are coming right now.”