Health officials urge vaccinations for the holiday season

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LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Health officials have an urgent message for you this Thanksgiving and holiday season: don’t let your guard down.

The concern centers on recent rising cases of COVID-19 especially in Pennsylvania and other northeast and midwest states.

The virus which causes COVID-19 is very much among us and making increasing numbers of people sick. The unvaccinated are especially vulnerable. Geisinger reports nearly nine out of 10 of its COVID-19 hospitalizations are people who’ve skipped the shot.

“So you can see that just by that statistic, the importance of getting fully vaccinated to lower your risk of getting a disease is significant enough to put you in the hospital,” stated Shane Young, a Geisinger Physician.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health reports through midnight Monday night, more than 3,100 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, 751 of them in the ICU.

Overall, the state reports an additional 5,186 COVID cases. Yet, roughly one in four Pennsylvania adults remain unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated.

COVID cases are spreading among children. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports weekly infections among children jumped more than 40 percent since late October, a stat pediatricians fear will worsen in the coming weeks unless eligible kids are vaccinated.

“As the weather gets colder, we’re having a lot more children coming indoors, and children coming indoors more close contact with each other,” explained Dr. Jeffery Kile, a pediatrician at PAK Pediatrics.

Only about one in three eligible children for the COVID vaccine have gotten the shot even though COVID is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in kids. Getting them vaccinated now will provide them protection from serious COVID-related illness by Christmas.

“We’ve seen an outpouring of people coming in and having the vaccine for their children and parents recognizing the risks that they take if their children are not vaccinated,” said Kile.

“I realize that there are concerns about the newness of the vaccine, the theoretical risks of the vaccine but you can compare those theoretical risks to the very definitive risks of dying from COVID,” explained Young.

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