Kansas health officials urge residents to get vaccinated ahead of an anticipated winter COVID-19 surge. (Getty Images)
TOPEKA — Kansas health officials are warning residents about lingering COVID-19 symptoms, asking people to get boosters and practice COVID-19 safety measures ahead of winter, when COVID-19 cases are predicted to significantly increase.
Catherine Satterwhite, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regional health administrator for Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska, said numbers for vaccine booster shots were worryingly low.
In Kansas City, she said, only 4% of the eligible population had gotten their updated COVID-19 booster shot. She spoke during a Wednesday medical update held by the University of Kansas Health System. Satterwhite asked people to get booster shots and start thinking about virus prevention measures.
“As we go into the winter months, we really do want to remind everybody that those are important tools you can do to keep yourself and your community safe,” Satterwhite said.
From Oct. 26 to Nov. 2, there were 2,382 new COVID-19 cases reported in Kansas and 14 deaths, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
Data from the KDHE shows that 64.8% of Kansans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination dose. More than half of Kansans have completed the COVID-19 vaccination series, with vaccination numbers sitting at 56.8%. Only 7% of Kansans have been vaccinated with the COVID-19 bivalent booster.
Overall, about 7.3% of people in the U.S. have taken the updated COVID-19 booster shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 68.4% of U.S. residents, 226.9 million people, are fully vaccinated.
“As a country, we do have a low uptake, especially of that COVID-19 updated shot,” Satterwhite said.
She encouraged Kansans to participate in research studies on COVID-19, saying many people were experiencing long COVID, meaning they had lingering symptoms after recovering from COVID-19. The CDC has identified several potential symptoms, such as brain fog, tiredness, heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, and even neurological problems such as difficulty sleeping and changes to smell and taste.
Assistant Surgeon General of the United States Michael Iademarco said understanding the underlying causes of long COVID is essential for improving COVID-19 patient care.
He said long COVID research needed to be further explored, with the goal of creating additional services at federal and local levels to address long COVID symptoms.
“There is and will continue to be a significant added burden to our health system, which as you know, has its advantages and disadvantages,” Iademarco said. “The health system has to address the increased number of patients in need. It’s not just one disease, it’s a myriad of conditions that fall into different categories.”
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