COVID still rearing its head as Snohomish County leaders urge people to get new booster

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. — The Snohomish County Health Department is asking residents to stay vigilant while they monitor a rise in local COVID cases.

“We still have a pandemic going on, and we still don’t know what COVID is going to do,” said Snohomish County Health Officer Dr. James Lewis.

He says the county has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases at local long term care facilities, an increase in requests for testing, and an increase in reported infections. These factors are all indicators that the county is seeing a rise in overall cases.

But despite that data, some residents remain unfazed.

“If I’m gonna get it, I’m gonna get it,” said Everett resident Pamela Lewis.

The new variant known as “Pirola” is leading the local and national surge. And while it’s fast spreading, the newest vaccines recently approved by the FDA are designed to fight it.

“Similar to your annual flu vaccine moving forward, rather than a booster, it’s just a new vaccine that’s going to target whatever variant of COVID is circulating most prominently at the time,” Dr. Lewis said.

He and other health experts say there’s an urgency for people to protect themselves, not just from COVID, but from the upcoming RSV and flu season as well.

“I think, right now, the main thing is to get all of the vaccines as quickly as possible,” UW Medicine’s Dr. Helen Chu.

The newest COVID-19 vaccine should be available at some pharmacies in Western Washington as soon as this weekend. Residents can find appointments around their area.

Dr. Chu tells KIRO 7 that vaccines can be taken at the same time.

“Right now, what we’re recommending is that you get the flu and the COVID vaccines at the same time. And it’s completely safe to get them at the same time, and it’s as effective as getting them separately, says Dr. Chu. “Keep in mind that the more vaccines you get at one time, the more side effects you’ll have. You get a sore arm and people get achy after their vaccine. So then you’ll have two sore arms instead of one.”