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Do you need a COVID-19 booster? How about two? Doctors say, being current on vaccinations varies by person

With a COVID-19 resurgence in the Carolinas, health officials want people to get up-to-date on vaccinations, but doctors say what that means varies by person.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — COVID-19 spread is increasing again in the Carolinas, leading public health officials to call for more up-to-date vaccinations.

In Mecklenburg County, officials say a seven-week stretch of declines and stability in coronavirus numbers has been snapped, noting spring holidays and the omicron subvariant BA.2 are likely behind the latest resurgence.

The trends are similar statewide.

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North Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services reported this week that virus levels in wastewater have grown tenfold over the past six weeks, and patient counts are up slightly since the week before.

Mecklenburg Public Health said at-risk people, like those 50 and older and those with underlying health conditions should consider masking up indoors. It also said that people not current on their COVID-19 vaccinations should catch up.

However, being current on coronavirus protection can mean different things to different people, doctors say.

Dr. David Priest, an infectious disease specialist with Novant Health, said age, medical conditions, prior COVID-19 infections, and prior COVID-19 shots all factor into whether a person is considered fully up-to-date on their protection.

In general, those 12 and older should be fully vaccinated and boostered.

Those 50 and older are eligible for a second booster on top of that, but Priest said not everyone in this group needs to rush out right away.

"My professional opinion is that the fourth dose is really most beneficial for much older patients, over the age of 65, and those with significant chronic medical conditions," Priest said.

He also noted that previously being sick with the virus counts towards your protection.

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"In general, people need three doses of vaccine, but if you've had COVID, you can consider that one of the doses," Priest said.

Those still questioning where they stand should talk to their doctor about the best vaccination plan, also considering that vaccine-makers are crafting new boosters, targeted for omicron, which could be available in a few months.

"I would anticipate in the fall, there's going to be more omicron-specific version of vaccine there and some recommendations on whether it should be annual and who should receive it," Priest said.

New state data this week shows that not only is the omicron subvariant BA.2 91% of new cases in North Carolina, but nearly all strains circulating are some version of omicron.

Contact Vanessa Ruffes at vruffes@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

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