COVID season returns as FDA approves new vaccine

Fall doesn’t officially start until next week, but COVID season is in full swing.
Experts say we’re in a COVID uptick. The Food and Drug Administration just approved a brand-new vaccine, and city officials are encouraging New Yorkers to get vaccinated. 
BA.2.86 is the newest strain of COVID – and according to Michael A. Hernández from Public Health Solutions, it’s the one to watch. 
“It is a subvariant of Omicron as have been all of the strains that have been of interest as of December,” Hernández told News 12 from his office in TriBeCa.  “That is the one we are most concerned with and has had the most cases of hospitalization in the city.”
According to, there has been a daily average of 65 hospitalizations in New York City per day over the past seven days.  And there’s been 107 new COVID cases reported daily in that time period.  That’s more than double the case load compared to November of 2022 when there were 52 COVID cases per 100,000 people. 
Hernández suspects only a fraction of positive cases are being reported. 
"Where as there had been COVID testing vans around the city, those are no longer there,” Hernández said.  “Right now, everyone is using the home test kits and they may go ahead and call the Health Department to see if they can get Paxlovid...but those are the cases that are reported.”
The FDA just approved the new monovalent vaccine, which can act as a single-dose vaccine if you’ve never been vaccinated or a booster if you’ve gotten previous shots.  Despite some thinking the pandemic is over, Hernández says it’s still important to get the vaccine.
“We are victims of our own success...where as people have been vaccinated and they may have contracted COVID after being vaccinated – the severity of the symptoms might have been so mild they said, 'Oh, I had it, wasn’t a big deal.' That’s because the vaccines work,” he said.  “The vaccine does wear down and our antibodies need to be replenished and built back up, that’s why we have new booster shots.”
Hernandez also says you should mask up in confined spaces like the subway.  You can head to to find out where to get vaccinated.