AUTHORIZED: The latest COVID-19 booster, called a bivalent vaccine, arrived in the fall of 2022. Brian Chilson

With summer travel in the rearview and the beginning of the school year right around the corner, a resurgence of coronavirus cases in Central Arkansas has pharmacists’ phone lines buzzing with WAIT WHAT YEAR IS THIS?! (Alexa, play “Deja Vu” by Olivia Rodrigo.)

Covid is back. Again. More. Still. Arkansas Department of Health data says 1,310 new cases were reported in the state in the week ending August 9, and odds are you’ve scrolled past more than one image of a positive test card in your social media feed. “It’s concerning,” Anne Pace said. Pace co-owns Kavanaugh Pharmacy in Little Rock, and she said her staff has been watching the number of hospitalizations in Arkansas rise as they handle an uptick in inquiries about booster status.

Arkansas Department of Health
Covid data for the week ending August 9, 2023

So what’s the best course of action? Follow the CDC advice you’ve come to know and love, of course; isolate if you’ve been exposed, mask up in high-risk situations and take a test if you’re not feeling well. And although it’s “appropriate timing” to increase your awareness and check in on your booster status, Pace said, most healthy people under the age of 65 who received the last bivalent booster (the one that arrived in September of 2022, with an additional dose available in 2023 for people over 65) are best suited to wait for the arrival of a reformulated booster vaccine, which the pharmacy expects to arrive in the next month or so. That vaccine, Pace said, will be much more effective against the current iteration of the virus — the one that’s likely plaguing your friends or colleagues who just returned from abroad.