Omicron is Coming: How Can You Prepare?
Omicron is a highly infectious variant of COVID-19 that is spreading across the country at an alarming rate. The severity of Omicron is not clear at this time. However, most people who are fully vaccinated should be protected from severe infection, but we are expecting to see many serious cases in people who are unvaccinated, as well as milder breakthrough infections among people who are vaccinated. Everyone age 16 and older should get a booster shot of COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible, as people with boosters are better protected against the Omicron variant.
A rapid surge in Omicron cases has the potential to put significant strain on the already overloaded health system. This surge could endanger the health care system’s ability to care for people, as well disrupting business, school and infrastructure due to employee illness. We are also starting to see shortages of monoclonal antibody treatments (and staff to administer it), which can help those who test positive for COVID-19 avoid severe illness or death. Monoclonal antibody treatment may not be available to you if you test positive for COVID-19, because only one brand currently is effective against Omicron, and there will likely be more demand than supply. The best way to prevent a COVID-19 infection or serious illness/death is to get vaccinated as soon as possible and get your booster if you have been fully vaccinated.
We are urging our communities to take steps now to reduce the risk for themselves, their families and others in order to lessen the impact of Omicron on our health care system resources.
To Make Things Safer right Now:
- Get vaccinated and boosted – vaccination is one of the most powerful tools we have, and it’s not too late to get your 1st dose! We have 1st dose appointments, along with 2nd dose, 3rd dose (for immunocompromised folks), and Booster dose appointments. Please get your Booster dose if you are eligible!
- If you had Pfizer or Moderna for your initial series, you are eligible for a booster after 6 months.
- If you had Johnson & Johnson for your initial series, you are eligible for a booster after 2 months – due to recent data from the CDC and FDA we recommend a Pfizer or Moderna booster for folks who had their J&J shot.
- Sign up for your dose at one of our clinics here: https://www.barryeatonhealth.org/schedule-vaccine
- Wear a mask indoors & in crowded outdoor spaces.
- Get tested if you have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you have COVID-19 symptoms, or before gathering.
- Pre-register for one of our testing events here: https://www.barryeatonhealth.org/test
- Limit the number of gatherings & the number of people at gatherings.
- Gather in well-ventilated spaces, open windows when possible.
- Postpone travel where possible.
- Take extra precautions for higher risk people in your life such as grandparents, immunocompromised people, and children who are too young to be vaccinated.
- Wash your hands & avoid touching your face.
Steps to Prepare for the wave of Omicron:
- Businesses and healthcare facilities should plan for impacts on the workforce & reduce risk where possible in the workplace.
- Schools may see impacts from more cases in staff & students after winter break. Encourage students & staff to wear masks, get vaccinated if they are eligible, and stay home when they have signs of illness.
- Community members should try to gather as safely as possible and limit the number and size of indoor gatherings if possible.