RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Data from the Virginia Department of Health, or VDH, showed only 18% of Virginians are up to date with COVID-19 shots, at the same time, a new vaccine will be available beginning next week.

Health officials called the shortfall in coverage “COVID fatigue.”

“I can certainly understand why many people are experiencing it,” said Dr. Laurie Forlano, VDH state epidemiologist. “I think it’s been a really difficult few years.”

But with COVID evolving, there are still ways to combat it.

“Viruses evolve, they acquire different characteristics or qualities,” Forlano said. “They might have genetic mutations that allow the virus to escape certain immunity protections that a person has.”

That’s why more than two years after the peak of the pandemic, the CDC has come out with yet another vaccine, the Fall 2023 vaccine recommended for everyone over the age of six months.

Overall — three out of four Virginians got the primary course of shots since 2021. But when it comes to the follow-up boosters — fewer than one in five Virginians are fully up to date.

“There is a lot of opportunity for improvement,” Forlano said.

She added that older Virginians have the highest rate of coverage, and are also at the highest risk for severe illness or even death from the virus, and urges people to get the right information about COVID.

“Make sure you’re getting your information from reliable sources. The VDH website has a lot information about COVID-19,” Forlano said.

Walgreen’s and CVS are taking appointments for the new shot.

In a recent WAVY Instagram poll, nearly two out of three respondents said they would not get the vaccine.

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