WACO, Texas – Little is known about the Omicron strain including whether it is more contagious, more likely to cause serious illness, or more able to evade vaccines.
The Waco-McLennan County Public Health District says among all of those questions, there is one thing we do know: this strain is highly transmissible.
“If we are all fully vaccinated, the virus has no place to go, it has no place to live. So that’s really the key,” said Kelly Craine with the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District.
The Health District along with the WHO, CDC, and our very own President are urging us to get vaccinated.
“Getting vaccinated, it’s essential, it really is going to make a difference. Its going to make a difference between being sick and being healthy,” said Craine.
The Omicron variant leaves the Health Department with more questions than answers.
“Now the questions are many, so how far has it spread around the world? Is it in the United States? These are questions we don’t know yet,” said Craine.
Craine says what we do know, is this strain is highly transmissible.
“So it’s easily spread from person to person and that is a concern,” said Craine.
Just like the Delta variant, Omicron needs to be studied before we know how dangerous it really is.
“It kind of has it’s own fingerprint and so you have the original or what they call the wild-type Coronavirus, and that’s our marker of what it used to look like and every little change that’s made, every little adaptation that the virus makes shows up whether its on a spike protein, whether its a part of it’s DNA whatever is going on in it, it makes a little change and so those little changes require laboratory study,” said Craine.
With even more family gatherings and holiday festivities on the horizon, the Department says it’s important to take care of yourself.
“In those kind of gatherings where people are hugging and sharing food, it really is a nice little gathering for viruses and bacteria infections to spread,” said Craine.
Health officials say Omicron has more mutations than any strain we’ve seen so far and early indications are that it could be more transmissible but also possibly milder than the Delta variant.
“One thing about Delta is it affected much younger people it was not affecting the senior citizens in the same way that it was affecting young people, 20, 30, 40 years old. So, we have to really kind of understand what’s going on, it’s going to take and intense amount of research over these next couple of days to really understand what it means for us right now,” said Craine.
Moderna and Pfizer are already working on vaccines targeting the new variant. However, health officials are urging Americans to get vaccinated and get booster shots as soon as possible, saying it’s the best way to protect against infection.
“Get everyone vaccinated. Those are the keys, we can stop this, we have the tools, this is a preventable disease so get vaccinated,” said Craine.
Vaccination clinics are being held right now throughout Central Texas, click HERE for a list of times and locations.