COVID rates high, vaccination rates are low during winter surge

The U.S. is seeing a surge in respiratory viruses, such as COVID, flu and RSV. At the same time, vaccination rates are low. 

That same pattern is playing out in the Bay Area. 

"This year’s surge this winter is looking nearly as bad as last year’s in terms of how much COVID is out there, and that’s why it’s just as important to be vaccinated this year as it was in previous years," said Dr. Sarah Rudman, the deputy health officer for Santa Clara County. 

Wastewater data for Santa Clara county shows just like the rest of the country, COVID levels are high. 

"We are seeing high levels in our wastewater in nearly all areas of the county. And that’s our best indication that there is a lot of COVID out there right now," Rudman said. 

Tens of thousands of Americans are being admitted to the hospital for respiratory viruses each week right now. Nationally, CDC data shows COVID levels are higher than they were this time last year, in every region. 

And this latest data doesn't include the spread from the holidays yet. 

On top of this surge, vaccination rates are low, for both COVID and the flu. 

"That worries me because even though our hospitals are not quite as inundated as they were this time last year, we are still seeing people land in the hospital or even die from their COVID or flu disease this year," said Rudman. 

Only 19% of U.S. adults have gotten the recent COVID vaccine, that same percentage in Santa Clara County. Rudman said it's not too late to protect yourself. 

"If COVID does settle into an annual pattern or something similar, the way we see with flu and RSV, we’ll fortunately be able to combat that by getting up to date on our COVID shots every year," said Rudman.