COVID is lurking in Bolton Hill. Time for a vaccine booster?

Photo courtesy of Davidson College

In case you haven’t heard, COVID is still around. Several people in the neighborhood, all of them vaxxed and boosted, have had a brush with it.

“I gave a party the night before, with 15 people in my small living room. The next morning, I woke up with my nose and throat on fire,” said BHCA President Amy Sheridan, who missed the December association in-person meeting. “When I took the test it was like an alarm lighting up.” But, she said, the worst of it didn’t last.

“Because I am over 65, I was able to get Paxlovid, through my doctor’s office. It was a mild case. I never lost my sense of taste or smell,” she said. But for about two weeks she suffered sniffles and lost her voice “and I was very low energy.” During that period, she re-tested, once negative, once positive. “I have no idea where I got it,” but none of her house guests had tested positive as of mid-December.

Dr. Leana Wen, the former Baltimore city health officer who now writes for the Washington Post, says that while COVID vaccines and boosters are helpful in preventing and mitigating the impact of recent COVID strains, they are not airtight preventions. She cited recent studies that showed the vaccine and boosters to have about 60 percent effectiveness against the omicron subvariants for three months, declining thereafter.

“Nearly 9 of 10 deaths today from COVID are among those 65 or older, yet only about a third of people in this age group have received the updated booster,” Wen wrote. Public health agencies need to boost their promotion of the updated booster, she said, when holiday celebrations are increasing travel and indoor gatherings.

Maryland’s Health Department has a COVID resource online and has the State Center vaccine center at 300 W. Preston St., which is quite convenient for Bolton Hill residents. Both testing and vaccinations are available there. There is also a online questionnaire that helps define the need – when did you last have a vaccination or booster, with the key indicator of 2 months, and your age. Vaccinations are available there Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday between 8-11 am. The State Center facility recommends making an appointment.

The Walgreens pharmacy on McMechen Street, near Save-a-Lot, has a similar questionnaire online, with the key question as to whether you’ve had a vaccination or booster with the last 2 months and your age. The same goes for CVS, which also has stores close by in Mount Vernon and Charles Village.

At the Safeway pharmacy in Charles Village, walk-in testing and shots are generally available. As an inducement, the store provides those whom it vaccinates with a coupon good for 10 percent off grocery shopping.

– Tom Hasler and Bill Hamilton