HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Recent history has shown that, as the calendar begins to turn to fall, COVID-19 cases will increase.

Huntsville Hospital is reporting an uptick in hospitalizations, but it’s far below the first years of the pandemic.

“Back in June, we had about seven or eight COVID-positive patients in the hospital, at any given time,” Huntsville Hospital President and Tracy Doughty told News 19 Wednesday. “You look now today, we have 25 in the hospital that require hospitalizations.”

Regulars this week approved a new vaccine aimed at the subvariant XBB .1.5.

“It was cleared by the FDA on Monday, and Tuesday the CDC recommended it for everyone pretty much over the age of six months because of the rise in cases,” Doughty said.

Huntsville Hospital is ordering vaccines for its employees, with shipments expected by early next week. Doughty says he expects the vaccine to be widely available at doctor’s offices, clinics, and big box stores.

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“We closed down our Fever and Flu Clinic back in the early part of the year because the vaccines are so widespread and testing is so widespread that people had tons of options,” he said. “If there comes a point and time where there aren’t options out there, of course, we’ll step up and make sure the community is taken care of. But currently, we think there will be plenty of options for people to get the vaccine.”

Doughty said the hospital has focused on working with schools with nursing programs and taken a creative approach to hiring. He said the hospital is in a much better position staffing-wise than it was a year ago at this time.  

It’s not yet clear what the next few months will bring, he added.

“We’re thinking Fall break then Thanksgiving, Christmas,” he said. “We’ll know more about the severity and how much is transmitted, then how much the uptake of the boosters has been. We’ll know more then, so it’s a wait-and-see approach.”

The hospital is encouraging everyone older than six months to get the new vaccine.