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It's time to get your booster shot

Two gloved hands give someone a shot.
Mufid Majnun
Over a million Americans have already received a third Covid shot.

The omicron variant of COVID-19 has been detected in Utah, but little is known about how this variant is different from the others.

Cases of the COVID-19 omicron variant are being detected at an increasing rate across the United States. This new variant of concern was introduced in Utah a couple of weeks ago. Unlike other places however, there are only three official cases of this strain in the whole state. With the holidays right around the corner, many health experts suspect this will change.

Dr. Leisha Nolen is an Epidemiologist for the state of Utah. She's been studying the infection data closely since the start of the pandemic. She says vaccines provide less protection against infection by omicron than other variants, but they still save lives.

“There is one study from South Africa that showed that yeah, the protection against infection was quite low at about 30%. Happily, though, it still did look like the protection against hospitalization was quite good. So they were seeing about 70% protection against hospitalization. So that would still be really helpful.”

She adds that in addition to omicron, Utah is still fighting other COVID-19 variants.

“Our vast majority of our cases are delta, we are studying to see the matter of Omicron, we still have some of the other variants that were around even before Delta. But by far, most of our cases are caused by delta.”

Full vaccination isn't a permanent safety shield against COVID-19. As infection rates continue to increase and new COVID-19 mutations spread throughout populations, risk of disease increases.

“And so that means, for those of us who already had our two shots of Moderna, Pfizer, go get that third shot, if it's been six months, because that booster shot, the data is really suggesting that if you get that booster set, your body can fight off Omicron. Whereas if you only have two shots, and it's been a while, it's not nearly as good. So really recommending, if you've got no donor advisor, you'll get your booster. If you got Johnson and Johnson, it's even more important”

Visit these links for more information about vaccines and the status of COVID in your area.

Colleen Meidt is a Science Reporter at UPR as well as a PhD student at Utah State University. She studies native bees in the Mojave Desert and is particularly interested studying the conservation status of the Mohave Poppy Bee. In her free time, Colleen enjoys photography and rock climbing in the canyons.