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The Bay Area doctor stresses the need for a new COVID-19 vaccine as experts set expectations for the effectiveness rate

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — Breakthrough infections are becoming increasingly common in society, largely due to COVID’s ability to mutate and change.

As a result, experts across the country are setting lower expectations for the vaccine’s effectiveness.

As the Bay Area celebrated Independence Day, it’s safe to say that we all wish we were a pandemic-free nation.

Thankfully, there was little impact on the Fourth of July celebrations, but UCSF infectious disease specialist Dr. Peter Chin-Hong says COVID-19 and the Omicron variants are still causing problems in the community.

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“Community infections are very, very disruptive,” said Dr. Chin Hong. People stay home from work, people stay home from school, people stay home to take care of the sick, and that creates a lot of disruption.”

A growing number of experts across the country, including Dr. Chin-Hong says part of the reason for this pause in cases is due to the effectiveness of the vaccines.

The Omicron variants, once touted as a way to stop COVID, are bypassing vaccines and case numbers remain high across the Bay Area.

However, the CDC recently said that vaccinated people are still about 40 times more likely to survive an infection than unvaccinated people.

dr Chin-Hong says vaccines mixed with booster shots are even better at preventing serious illnesses and deaths.

“I’m thrilled that we’re keeping our hospitals pretty much intact and not having a flood of people in the hospitals despite so many people getting infected,” said Dr. Chin Hong. “In the old days before vaccination, I can guarantee you that we really were behind the 8-ball.”

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dr Chin-Hong says any booster is better than no booster, but disturbing new data from the CDC suggests a single booster’s protection from hospital admissions drops from 90% to 66-78% in four to five months.

According to Dr. Chin-Hong the importance of a second booster shot for people over 50 and also the need for an updated vaccine.

“It’s a never-ending cycle and I think people are getting tired of it, rightly so,” said Dr. Chin Hong. “We need to address that with an updated vaccine that not only treats serious illness but hopefully does an even better job of preventing infection.”

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according to dr Chin-Hong is in a race against the clock to produce the vaccine as variants continue to mutate.

He says Vaccine 2.0 funding is being held up in Congress but still hopes it will be available in the fall.

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