RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The latest data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) showed the presence of COVID-19 in the state increased for the 11th straight week.
The number of virus particles detected in the state's wastewater jumped to the second-highest point in 2023, according to data released on Wednesday. The amount is more than double what the state detected this time last year.
The severity of the cases is also increasing but has not surpassed 2022's levels. More than 600 patients were admitted for COVID-19 last week; the highest since February but still nearly 500 patients fewer than last September.
The continual infections in North Carolina and the country come as the FDA approved an updated booster shot. The updated doses of the vaccine are designed to better protect Americans from the current variants of the virus.
One day after the FDA approved them, pharmacies around the Triangle started to receive doses.
"As soon as that approval went through yesterday, we were able to get the vaccine," said Gaurang Trivedi, the CVS Health region director.
He said about 15 CVS stores across the Triangle received updated booster shots on Wednesday and started administering the shots.
"We have a lot of folks who have had their appointments for like Friday, Saturday into next week. So there's a lot of demand," Trivedi said.
Though the vaccines have arrived, convincing people to get the shot will be another hurdle. The percentage of North Carolinians who received booster vaccines has decreased since the initial doses.
The state stopped tracking vaccinations in April, but at the time 63% of the state was fully vaccinated. However, only a fifth of those North Carolinians reported getting two additional boosters.
The percentage of boosted residents significantly decreased based on people's ages. Only 9% of 0-4-year-olds received an updated booster shot opposed to 38% of people 65 years and older.
Everyone 6 months old and older qualifies for the fall COVID-19 vaccine. Health experts recommend people schedule to receive both the flu and COVID-19 shots together. Most insurance companies will cover the vaccines at no cost. There are also a number of federal programs that will provide free vaccines to those who are underinsured or uninsured.
Trivedi recommends people check with their pharmacy starting this week to schedule an appointment.
"I highly recommend, you know, patients as soon as you get a chance, get your appointment, get that protection going. Right? Because the biggest thing you want to make sure that you're protected against this new variant that's going around," he said.
For more information about the updated vaccines, people are encouraged to visit: https://www.ncdhhs.gov/news/press-releases/2023/09/13/health-officials-encourage-north-carolinians-get-fall-covid-19-vaccine-and-flu-shot.