N.C. Health Experts Urge Booster Shots As Omicron Variant Spreads 





CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Health experts are urging North Carolinians to get vaccinated and their booster shots as soon as possible, as they predict a surge in COVID-19 infections due to the presence of the Omicron variant.

Experts predict the highly contagious COVID-19 variant, Omicron, to cause the greatest surge in COVID-19 infections to date in the coming months.

“Please get vaccinated and boosted because that’s the best way to protect yourself, your friends and your family during the holidays,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “As the Omicron variant spreads through the United States, it is more clear than ever that these shots provide strong protection against serious illness and death if you get infected.”‘

Health experts say early evidence shows Omicron is two to three times as contagious as the Delta variant, making it four to six times as contagious as the original COVID-19 virus.

Data also suggests that protection against the virus after the primary vaccination series is waning, although still effective at preventing against severe disease, and the booster will greatly increase protection against Omicron.

Health experts predict that once Omicron is in a community, it will be nearly impossible to contain, making vaccines and boosters essential in protecting people from death and severe illness.

“Early data show boosters offer substantial protection from severe illness from Omicron, showing that vaccines continue to be the best way to protect your health. Get your booster as soon as its time — especially if you are over 65 or have underlying medical conditions,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “This new variant is extremely contagious, and I am very worried about North Carolinians who have not been vaccinated yet. Don’t wait to vaccinate. It’s not too late to decide to get your shot.”

The CDC now recommends the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines as the best choice for preventing infection and complications from COVID-19.

Officials say there is ample supply of the vaccines in North Carolina and across the country.

To date, health experts say the vaccines have prevented severe illness and hospitalization among millions of Americans.

A study released by The Commonwealth Fund estimates COVID-19 vaccines prevented more than 1 million additional deaths and more than 10 million additional hospitalizations in the United States through November 2021.

Vaccinating against COVID-19 remains the most effective way for people to protect themselves from serious illness, hospitalization and death.

Once vaccinated, health officials say people should get a booster shot six months after their second dose of the primary vaccine series.

With the presence of Omicron and the upcoming holiday, officials say North Carolinians should:

  • Vaccinate: Get vaccinated before gathering, attending events or traveling. Get a booster when eligible. Layer protection with a flu shot.
  • Test: Get a COVID-19 test before joining gatherings with others who are not in your household and before and after traveling, regardless of your vaccine status.
  • Mask: Wear a mask indoors in public, even if you are vaccinated.





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