U.S. tracks spread of Omicron Variant

Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 4:51 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 29, 2021 at 6:26 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -Right now, countries are tracking the spread of the Omicron Variant of COVID-19. There is no evidence that it is yet in the United States, but the CDC is now saying anyone 18 and older should get a booster shot. The U.S. enacted a travel ban in response to the new Omicron Variant, keeping non-U.S. Citizens from entering the country from South Africa and seven other nations.

The CDC said early data from South Africa suggest increased transmissibility of the Omicron Variant. Scientists are examining the vaccine’s effectiveness against it. Even still, Nebraska doctors said being vaccinated is your best defense in slowing the spread and preventing you from serious infection.

“If there is a chance it could cause increased transmissibility, the time to deal with that is before you are infected or before stuff has established a strong foothold,” said Dr. David Quimby, Infectious disease specialist at Creighton University. “We don’t want the days of cancelling elective surgeries to come back.”

Nebraska Health Officials said Omicron has been labeled a variant of concern because of the number of mutations it has.

Doctors with CHI Health Creighton said vaccination is critical to slowing the number of copies your body creates, and shortening the length of time you reproduce the virus.

As the virus mutates, it’s impacting younger people even more.

“When I see younger patients, who are 35, 38, 25 on a ventilator and passing away and having families of their own with kids,” said Dr. Renuga Vivekanandan, Division Chief of Infectious Disease at CHI Health Creighton. “It’s really hard. It’s really hard to see these little babies not having their mom or dad.”

Doctors say right now the best thing to do to protect yourself from any variant is get vaccinated and wear a mask.

Both health officials said right now is a waiting game as scientists and health experts try to learn more about the new variant. They siad even if the vaccines drop slightly in efficiency against Omicron, it’s still better to be vaccinated, especially ahead of the holidays.

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