First detected in South Africa in November, the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has now been identified throughout the United States. The variant raised alarms after molecular virologists made a fingerprint of its structure and saw it had more mutations than any other variant. This hinted that omicron could be as much or more contagious than the extremely transmissible delta variant. Read more details about the variant in this post from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In a new video released this week, Vanderbilt University Medical Center infectious disease expert William Schaffner, MD, and chief hospital epidemiologist Tom Talbot, MD, discuss what you need to know about the omicron variant and how best to manage the holidays to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Omicron is giving delta a run for its money wherever it goes,” Dr. Schaffner said, though he admitted that scientists don’t yet know its severity. To determine whether the variant causes the same, milder or a more severe version of the disease, “the laboratory lights are on at night" to find the answer, he said.
Until we know more about the variant, what do Schaffner and Talbot recommend that people should do right now? “Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate,” Schaffner said, with his message targeted for the following three groups:
- Unvaccinated adults.
- Children ages 5 and older through teen years.
- Adults who have been vaccinated two to six months prior, depending on their type of vaccine. Boosters are now approved for everyone 18 and over.
If you fit into any of those categories, it’s easy to learn more and schedule an appointment right now at Vanderbilt Health’s site.
Watch the video below, and please share with your employees and their families.