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COVID-19 Omicron variant and booster shots

Published: Nov. 30, 2021 at 5:20 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 30, 2021 at 7:41 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Omicron variant still hasn’t shown up in the United States, but health leaders expect it will sooner or later. While research is continuing into the new COVID variant, is the new threat causing an increase in booster shots?

The threat of the Omicron variant just came out last week, popping up in Europe and South Africa. There hasn’t been a jump in booster shots here in Alabama. UAB has reported giving 70 more booster and one-time doses Monday. Still, health leaders said that could change if Omicron starts to spread across the United States.

The Alabama Department of Public Health says it continues to look at all variant COVID strains, but so far there is no threat from the Omicron variant in Alabama.

“I expect to see it at some point, but there is no Omicron that has been identified in the United States. As of yesterday, it had been identified in Canada,” Dr. Scott Harris, Alabama State Health Officer said.

The state health department continues to urge people to get vaccinated and to get those booster shots.

While studies are ongoing into the Omicron variant, Harris said there are concerns this new virus could be more resistant to COVID vaccines.

“If the virus continues to mutate and change that S-protein, that spike protein, it’s possible we won’t have effective vaccines. We won’t have effective therapeutics,” Harris said.

Harris says even if vaccines are less effective against the new variant, getting vaccinated is your best chance to protect yourself against severe cases until more information becomes available.

“If you are sick stay home. If you are susceptible because of your age or health problems, be careful about going out, particularly indoor settings where people are not wearing masks, or where people may not be vaccinated,” Harris continued.

Any sort of new vaccines targeting the Omicron variant will take months to produce. Harris says get those shots. He also says the new variant is no reason for people to panic.

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