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(WGHP) — Two years in the COVID-19 pandemic, having vaccines and boosters, data scientists predict an increased amount of hospitalizations.

Michael Dewitt, senior data scientist at Cone Health, said over the next few weeks, COVID-related hospitalizations are expected to rise.

“We do anticipate lots of hospitalization in cases over the next three to four weeks, really through January, and hopefully we’ll see a peak at least in the short term and perhaps a decline in cases from that point forward,” said Dewitt.

Dewitt said his team’s COVID-19 data is developed through a combination of information from NC DHHS, CDC and calculations that represent the spread of infection locally.

“Really, the struggle is we’re giving SARS-CoV-2 a lot of hosts, a lot of people to experiment in. Until our vaccination coverage is high both locally and across the world, we’ll see a rapid rise of a different variant,” said Dewitt.

As more variants emerge, so does guidance from experts on a federal level. Wednesday, the CDC gave parents the option to get a booster shot for their children.

The recommendation is for children ages 12 to 15 who got the Pfizer vaccine to get a booster shot five months after the original two doses.

Cone Health Chief Pharmacy Officer DeAnne Brooks said the approval for youth to get boosted is one step closer to getting out of the pandemic.

“We are seeing more children be hospitalized as the omicron variant is the predominant variant in our community, and this is also a way we can prevent the spread of the disease,” said Brooks.

Brooks said in addition to high vaccinations, washing hands, social distancing and mask-wearing will help aid in the fight of the pandemic and new variants.