A nurse vaccinates an elderly man. Both are wearing masks.
Illustration: PGN

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What you need to know 

  • COVID-19 metrics are up across the country. 
  • Experts think the wave could be due to waning immunity and indoor activities because of the heat.
  • Immunocompromised people and older adults should talk to their health care provider about possibly getting a booster.

The United States is now experiencing a summer COVID-19 wave, with the CDC reporting increases in most indicators nationally. However, experts say that the numbers are very low compared to other years and that we may soon reach the wave’s peak. Still, immunocompromised people and older adults may want to talk to their health care provider about taking some precautions. 

Read on to find out more about the current wave and whether you should get boosted now or wait until new boosters become available in the fall. 

Which COVID-19 indicators are increasing? 

The CDC reports that most COVID-19 indicators are currently increasing: Hospital admissions, emergency department visits, test positivity, and wastewater levels are all up. Some experts are most alarmed by the rate of hospital admissions, which increased 12.5 percent between July 23 and July 29. However, the numbers are still very low compared to the past three summer waves, and the number of deaths is the lowest since the CDC began to track them at the beginning of the pandemic. 

Why are we experiencing another summer COVID-19 wave?

One of the main reasons experts have cited for the current COVID-19 uptick is the heat, which has led to people gathering more indoors. Another reason is that our immunity to the virus is waning. And though the current wave doesn’t seem to have been caused by a specific variant (as all of the current ones are descendants of Omicron), epidemiologist Katelyn Jetelina told PBS that one of the reasons we’re seeing a spike is that “the virus continues to mutate about two times faster than the flu.” 

Should I get boosted now?

The bivalent booster from last fall is not as effective against the newer XBB Omicron subvariants, which are the current dominant strains. So, as some experts suggest, if you’re not at high risk, you might be better off waiting for the upcoming fall boosters, which are expected to be available between late September and early October and will target an XBB subvariant. However, if you’re an older adult or immunocompromised and haven’t yet received your bivalent booster, talk to your health care provider about the possibility of getting boosted now.