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Doctor suggests game plan for Super Bowl gatherings

Feb 11, 2022, 5:12 PM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 4:22 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — If you’re headed to the Super Bowl in Los Angeles this weekend, you’ll need to show proof of vaccination, and mask up inside the stadium. But, what about those of us who are getting together with friends to watch the game?

With no mask requirements in Utah many people have eased up on COVID-19 precautions. So, what’s the best game time advice for those concerned about the spread of the virus?

COVID-19 case rates remain very high in every county in Utah. Omicron cases peaked a month ago. But, more than 600 people are still hospitalized, and Utah experienced a single day record of 32 deaths earlier this week.

Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, an infectious diseases doctor with Intermountain Healthcare, said if you’re gathering for the Super Bowl on Sunday, it’s best if everyone is fully vaccinated and boosted. Secondly, if you have symptoms of an upper respiratory infection, you should assume it is COVID-19 caused by Omicron, and stay home.

“Yes, case counts have come down, thankfully,” Stenehjem said. “But, we’re still at multiple thousands per day. So, if you have symptoms, assume it’s Omicron, get tested and sit out the Super Bowl party.”

If your party includes those who are elderly, or immunocompromised, Stenehjem said, you should consider testing before the gathering to make sure you are negative.

Dr. Stenehjem is also one of the authors of a study released today assessing effectiveness of vaccines over time against Omicron. It’s the first research to really take a look at how well the vaccines work against that variant. They found the vaccine is less effective against Omicron than previous variants, and they expected that.

The study also found that boosters are 91% effective at preventing hospitalization within two months of receiving the booster.

“Over time, when you get out to greater than four months out, that effectiveness drops to 78%,” Stenehjem said. “So, still quite robust in preventing severe disease which would require hospitalization.”.

These findings will likely impact vaccination policy as the CDC considers the importance of additional boosters as the coronavirus evolves.

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