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New COVID-19 vaccine available as hospitalizations tick up in Pennsylvania

Pfizer, left, and Moderna bivalent COVID-19 vaccines are readied for use at a clinic, Nov. 17, 2022, in Richmond, Va.
Steve Helber
In this file photo, Pfizer, left, and Moderna bivalent COVID-19 vaccines are readied for use at a clinic, Nov. 17, 2022, in Richmond, Va. New vaccines are becoming available in September 2023.

As COVID-19 cases rise, including in Pennsylvania where hospitalizations are up, health care providers are urging people to continue to take steps to prevent its spread, including getting the latest vaccine.

At Mount Nittany Medical Center in Centre County, the number of patients with COVID had been in the single digits, and even reaching zero, in July and August. But that number has gone up to 11 and 12 in September.

Pointing to that increase in cases in the community and health care system, Mount Nittany Health instituted a masking requirement Sept. 14 through Sept. 29 for employees and volunteers who are around patients.

Dr. Trina Abla, chief medical officer for Penn Highlands Healthcare, said they had seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, but that looks to be leveling off.

Penn Highlands serves areas from Pittsburgh to State College. Abla said hospitalizations are significantly lower than in the past, and cases are generally milder. But it’s still worth being cautious.

“None of us want to be stuck at home for five days lying in bed, not being able to go to work, isolating ourselves from friends and family," Abla said. "So using those precautions like washing your hands and staying away from others when you are sick, and getting the vaccine booster, staying up to date with that, are the best things you can do to try to avoid getting sick.”

The newly approved COVID vaccines should be available this week or next.

Wastewater monitoring in some parts of the state also shows increases in COVID. And hospitalizations are up statewide, although still not close to levels seen previously.

A bar chart showing COVID hospitalizations over time in Pennsylvania.
COVID Data Tracker
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
COVID hospitalizations have been increasing in Pennsylvania and nationally since the summer 2023. But, they still have not come close to the levels seen at the peak of the pandemic.

Anne Danahy has been a reporter at WPSU since fall 2017. Before crossing over to radio, she was a reporter at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania, and she worked in communications at Penn State. She is married with cats.