Gifford Medical Center official: Get COVID shots, celebrate holidays as usual

  • A five year old child receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for 5-11 year old kids at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut on Nov. 2, 2021. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images/TNS) Joseph Prezioso

  • A family passes a Christmas tree while checking their bags for a flight at Logan International Airport, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Boston. Travel experts say the ability of many people to work remotely is letting them take off early for Thanksgiving or return home later. Crowds are expected to rival those of 2019, the last Thanksgiving before the pandemic. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/22/2022 9:56:48 PM
Modified: 11/22/2022 9:56:49 PM

RANDOLPH — Gifford Medical Center’s chief medical officer is encouraging families to return to normal holiday celebrations now that people have access to COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, as well as effective treatments.

“Even though I’ve had COVID a couple of times and don’t particularly enjoy it, I’m not afraid of it anymore and neither should you (be),” Dr. Josh White wrote in a Nov. 18 blog post on Gifford’s website.

He encouraged people, as long as they’re feeling well and free of coughs and fevers, to gather with their families and celebrate the holidays as they did before the pandemic.

“Those kinds of things are really important, particularly with the angst and stress in this post-COVID world that we all now live in,” he said.

Because omicron, the predominant variant of COVID-19, is so infectious, most people will likely get it at some point, he said.

“If you want to live in an environment where you’re at lower risk, you have the opportunity to get vaccinated and get the boosters,” he wrote.

People age 12 and older who have been vaccinated and boosted with the new bivalent boosters are nearly 15 times less likely to die of COVID-19 than people who have not, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website. For those who’ve been boosted, the risk of dying from COVID-19 is lower than the risk of dying in a car crash, White said.

People who do get COVID-19 and are at a higher risk of serious illness or death due to their age or underlying medical conditions can be treated with an antiviral medication called Paxlovid, which White said is about 89% effective at reducing morbidity and mortality. Additional treatments include monoclonal antibodies and Evusheld, which if administered about every six months can be used to protect people who cannot be vaccinated due to having a suppressed immune system or allergy.

White acknowledged that social distancing and masks have kept other viruses such as the flu and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, from circulating in recent years. Because of that, immunity to those viruses is relatively low.

“This is not a more virulent version of RSV,” he said of an uptick in infections. “It’s just that nobody’s got any immunity and so we’re seeing more cases. It could be a problem in terms of where to put patients, but we’re dealing with it.”

A dashboard on the New Hampshire Hospital Association’s website indicates that there were no pediatric intensive care beds available on Sunday or Monday. There was one available on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the southern hemisphere has had a difficult influenza season, which may predict a difficult season for the northern hemisphere as well.

“So, I would strongly encourage you to get your flu shot,” White said. “Do the best you can to protect yourself and your neighbors.”

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at or 603-727-3213.

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