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MONROE — More than 32,000 residents of Union County have caught the potentially-deadly COVID-19 virus over the past 18 months, and roughly 270 citizens of the county have died from it, according to Union County Government’s COVID-19 Dashboard. There’s a vaccine available for anyone 12-and-over, and about half of the County has been fully vaccinated.

Nearly all new COVID-19 cases are in people who are not fully vaccinated, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

DHHS reports the vaccine is “safe and effective” and urges residents to get the shots “to protect yourself and others against hospitalization and death.” A booster dosage is available for some immunocompromised residents. To find a location close to you, go online to https://www.vaccines.gov/search/

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states: “The United States recently surpassed 40 million COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, with more than 4 million of these cases reported in the past few weeks. COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have generally increased throughout most of the country since the beginning of summer, fueled by the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. Low vaccination coverage in many communities is driving these increases.”

Although most people with COVID-19 get better within the weeks following illness, according to the CDC, some people experience post-COVID conditions. A recent CDC study shows that adults who had COVID-19 may experience ongoing health problems that can last four or more weeks after COVID-19 infection. The CDC reports health problems may include: shortness of breath, fatigue, difficulty concentrating (“brain-fog”), headache, fast-beating or pounding heart, cough, joint or muscle pain, dizziness/lightheadedness, or mood changes, among other symptoms. Even people who did not have significant COVID-19 symptoms in the days or weeks after they were infected can have post-COVID conditions.