Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Frederick Southwick says it is important for people to get vaccinated and get a booster shot to protect them from serious illness.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — On Wednesday, the first reported cased of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 in the U.S. was discovered in California.
With the first case of the fast-spreading variant now in the country, many people are left with questions about the variant’s severity and the efficacy of their vaccine against the new variant.
While those questions are still left to be answered, Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Frederick Southwick says it is still important to get vaccinated and play it safe.
“If we can all get vaccinated, get our boosters, use masks and socially distance,” Southwick said, “I think it is time to implement all those again.”
He says while he understands people are tired of the virus, it is still a deadly threat to those who are infected.
“I am tired of it too, but I am more tired of having to take care of patients who ended up in the hospital critically ill who did not follow those measures and were not vaccinated,” Southwick explained.
One First Coast News viewer asked is it truly important to get the booster in light of the omicron variant. Southwick says the booster will go a long way to giving you some protection.
“If your infection was six months ago or longer, or if your last vaccine was six months or longer, your immunity is waning,” Southwick said. “It’s decreasing, and you are more susceptible to the delta variant and highly likely to be more susceptible to the omicron variant.”
He says people should also not way to get their booster until one is available specifically for the omicron variant.
“What we are most concerned about is it is not whether you contract the infection but whether you end up in the hospital or die,” Southwick explained. “And there is every reason to believe that a booster will protect you from those two serious events.”
Southwick says for people at risk from getting seriously ill from COVID-19, particularly people with underlying health conditions, people 60 and older who have not been vaccinated, should reconsider whether it is safe to travel for the holidays.
“I think it is very likely this particular virus will be more infectious and you are at risk even going on planes,” Southwick said.