VDH doctor recommends COVID-19 booster if ommicron variant spreads; says people can get a vaccine or booster soon after infection – Community News

VDH doctor recommends COVID-19 booster if ommicron variant spreads; says people can get a vaccine or booster soon after infection

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – As the new omicron variant of COVID-19 spreads, government and health officials are highlighting vaccination as a key to combating this new threat.

“It’s really important that we continue to maintain all the prevention measures that we know and trust,” says Dr. Brandy Darby, veterinary epidemiologist with the Office of Epidemiology and member of the COVID-19 Response and Health Information Teams with the Virginia Department of Health.

Darby says doctors still have a lot to learn about the omicron variant, especially when it comes to whether or not the vaccines protect against it. However, they do believe that vaccines provide protection, which is why they are again encouraging people to get an injection or a booster.

According to Darby, a COVID-19 infection offers you some protection against reinfection, but they don’t know exactly how much.

“The tricky part is we really don’t know how long that takes or how strong the individual person’s immune response has been,” Darby said. “There is a lot of variability from person to person after infection.”

That uncertainty is why doctors suggest getting you vaccinated, even if you’ve had COVID-19. In addition, ommicron is different.

“Omicron has enough mutations that it’s actually very different from previous variants that we’ve seen, so we think a person’s natural immunity will likely be reduced when it comes to omicron,” Darby added.

If you had COVID-19 and qualify for a booster, Darby says you can get one as long as your symptoms have resolved and you’ve finished your isolation period.

“We expect that even if there is some reduced efficacy of the vaccine in the face of omicron, the vaccines will continue to provide really good protection against serious consequences such as hospitalization and death,” Darby said.

If you had monoclonal antibodies as a COVID-19 treatment, the Centers for Disease Control says you should wait some time and talk to your doctor before getting a booster.

Darby encourages people to wear masks, get vaccinated and wash their hands during the holidays.

Virginians who are not fully vaccinated or eligible for booster doses can visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 1-877-VAX-IN-VA (877) 829-4682 to locate nearby vaccination clinics.

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