How worried should we be about Omicron? Do we need COVID booster and flu shots?
Since first being reported in South Africa on December 1, 2021, the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has now been identified in 20 states, including Florida, which reported its first case December 7, 2021 in the Tampa area. Cases caused by Omicron have now been reported in 58 countries around the world.
While health officials and researchers work to determine how transmissible the Omicron variant is, how severe cases caused by it are, and how well existing vaccines protect people against it, health systems across the country are preparing for what could be a new COVID wave.
Although it is still too early to know with certainty until more data is collected, the South African Medical Research Council recently reported that over the past two weeks, most patients hospitalized with the Omicron variant have not required extra oxygen to breathe.
We’re going to get the basics of what’s known so far, and how new information about variants like Omicron are disseminated to doctors and health care workers and administrators. And we’ll talk about vaccinations and how booster shots work, as well as where the flu vaccine fits into this conversation.
- Dr. Stephanie Stovall, Pediatric Infectious Diseases specialist and the Interim Chief of Quality and Patient Safety for Lee Health System
- Marissa J. Levine, MD MPH, University of South Florida Professor of Public Health Practice and Family Medicine College of Public Health Morsani College of Medicine