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Vaccines remain the best weapon against severe illness and are now available for children 6 months and older.

COVID has finally found North Carolina’s highest ranking official. 

Gov. Roy Cooper announced on Monday that he had tested positive, but was “feeling fine” and maintaining a full schedule of video and phone conferences while working at home.

In a video statement released on Twitter, he said he was thankful he was vaccinated and fully boosted, was experiencing only mild symptoms, and was taking Paxlovid, an antiviral medication that is super effective at keeping infections manageable.

More than two years into the coronavirus pandemic, even with evolving variants, public health officials remain consistent about one message: Vaccinations and boosters are still great at preventing most severe illnesses, even when there is a breakthrough infection. 

“Each COVID variant has become more contagious than the last, so a lot of people are still getting it,” Cooper, 65, said in a video message. “So if you haven’t gotten vaccinated or boosted I encourage you to do so.”

The good news for parents of young children is that vaccines are finally available for anyone 6 months or older. 

“Many parents and families have been eagerly awaiting a vaccine to protect our youngest North Carolinians,” Kody Kinsley, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary said in a news release. “These vaccines are the best way to protect children from COVID-19 — they are safe, effective and free.” 

Boosters are also available for children 5 and older, though only the Pfizer shots have been approved at the moment.

The Virus Is Still Out There

Cooper’s announcement of testing positive for COVID follows a similar one last week from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading medical adviser to President Biden.

According to a June 15 statement from the National Institutes of Health, Fauci, who is vaccinated and double boosted, was experiencing mild symptoms. He too said he was taking Paxlovid. 

These two high-profile cases come at an odd part of the pandemic. Cases nationwide are beginning to flatten after several stubborn waves, but because testing is now mostly done at home, official case numbers are widely suspected to be far lower than the actual number. 

North Carolina, however, is one of only a few states aggressively testing wastewater for COVID particles, a metric many scientists say is a more accurate gauge of the virus’s prevalence in the community than testing. And the amount of virus particles found in the state’s waste water system has also flattened over the last couple of weeks.

Hospitalizations, which rose slightly over the last few months, are also beginning to calm down, and so far no health systems in the state have reported being overwhelmed as they were in previous waves.

Health officials say a significant wave is likely in the fall, but, as has been the case for quite awhile, we still have the tools to fight it.

You can find a vaccine for your young child here, and check here whether it’s time to get everyone else in your family a booster. 

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