SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- As cases of cold and flu and respiratory viruses rise across the country and the Bay Area, experts are reminding people not to forget about the danger COVID-19 presents.
Doctors say now is the time to start protecting yourself against a possible winter surge by getting a booster.
Holiday drinks are back at Starbucks, Thanksgiving is three weeks away and Christmas is soon after that.
It's many people's favorite time of year, but it's also the time that we've seen some of our biggest surges of COVID-19.
Santa Clara County Deputy Public Health Officer Dr. Sarah Rudman says the virus and its subvariants could play a "Grinch" role this holiday season if we're not prepared.
"Given the ongoing high amounts of transmission, it's still important to protect against them," Rudman said. "And actually, one of the best things we can do to protect against new variants getting a foothold or starting up here, is tamping down the overall amount of transmission happening by reducing all transmission."
She says we can do this by getting the new bivalent COVID-19 booster.
The county sits at about 17% of all residents who have received the updated vaccine.
It may sound low, but it's good compared to the state total of roughly 11%.
Of the 17 million Californians that got the initial booster, only three million so far have gotten the updated shot and Rudman says more is always better.
"We don't know what level of protection we'll need to make sure we are really safe and healthy throughout the winter," Rudman said. "So, the higher the better, in terms of making sure every resident is boosted."
Many people remain on the fence about the booster, asking what is the urgency right now and is it worth it?
Rudman says efficacy rates of the vaccine continue to show good immune response compared to the prior booster.
She adds if you don't get the shot now, it may be too late to give you best protection.
"As best we know, people seem to have their best level of protection about 2 weeks after this booster shot," Rudman said. "So, that's why it's so important to try and get it now and not wait until a holiday gathering, not waiting until we're already seeing a surge, not waiting until someone in your circle is sick."
The holidays are upon us and Rudman says the best way to enjoy it worry free is a flu shot in one arm and the booster in another.
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