Questions about omicron and boosters? Here are some answers.
Governor Kate Brown estimates that there are about three weeks left in Oregon before the omicron variant hits the nail on the head. She has set a goal of having one million recalls from Oregon by the end of January. Here’s a quick rundown of where it is and what you should do as another wave of COVID-19 looms.
How do you prepare for the omicron variant?
Public health officials say the best way to prepare for omicron is to get vaccinated.
If it’s been six months since your second COVID-19 vaccination, get a booster. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still considers you to be fully vaccinated if you have received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson drug. But federal health officials say that definition could change, and some colleges – including the University of Oregon – are already preparing to require students and staff to be reminded.
Where can I get a booster?
First, check with your health insurance fund. Most insurers schedule appointments for reminders and vaccinations.
If you don’t have health insurance, check appointments with the state and your county health department. Multnomah, Washington, Clark, and Clackamas counties all have websites listing clinics and appointments.
Authorities say if you can’t find a date right away, come back later because new dates are scheduled all the time.
If you can’t find an appointment with your health insurance or local health department, check nearby pharmacies. Many companies, including CVS and Rite Aid, offer vaccines.
You can also simply call 211 for assistance in Oregon and Southwest Washington.
How dangerous is the omicron variant?
The CDC announced on Tuesday that omicron is now the dominant version of the coronavirus. Last week it accounted for 73% of new infections in the United States
Omicron is between three and five times more transmissible than the delta variant, but it’s not believed to be that deadly.
The authorities are still very concerned, because omicron may send patients to the hospital. If a large number of people end up in the hospital with omicron, it distracts from sick people with other conditions. A forecast from Oregon Health & Science University indicates that the increase in omicron could lead to twice as many hospitalizations as the increase in the delta earlier this year.
“It’s incredibly sobering,” said Dr Jennifer Vines, Multnomah County health officer.
But Vines said county staff were heeding the call.
“Multnomah County and several other (counties) have been working over the weekend to start figuring out how we can quickly expand access to vaccines and boosters,” she said.
Vines called Governor Kate Brown’s goal of one million boosters ambitious.
“We need people not to put it off until after the holidays,” she said.
Are there enough vaccine doses available?
There is no shortage of vaccines, according to Patrick Allen, director of the Oregon Health Authority.
He said the state had received enough additional mRNA vaccine from the federal government to give 140,000 booster doses.
Supply is therefore not the problem. The numbers and the demand are.
“The lack of personnel to put out the shots is our main constraint which has led to rare dates in some Oregon communities,” Allen said. “… We need every eligible Oregonian to come forward for a protective booster dose.” “
You do not need to provide proof of vaccination to receive a booster, but your provider will want to know when you received your last vaccine. Boosters should be given at least six months after your last dose of vaccination.
How accurate are omicron forecasts?
OHSU’s Dr Peter Graven has a model that shows hospitalizations could peak at over 3,000 in February. That compares to 1,200 at the height of the Oregon Delta surge in September.
His predictions have been proven to be correct in the past. But he said there was an unprecedented degree of uncertainty in this one as he had to estimate the rate of spread and virulence of omicron.
“There is more speculation here. We try to anticipate parameters that are not fully known, ”Graven said last week.
“Structurally and trend-wise, they actually tend to be pretty specific. But if you were to assess the exact number of infections, the exact number of the peak… I would say none of them are correct, ”Chan said.
What is the state of Oregon doing to prepare?
Brown is urging Oregonians to get their booster shots and aims to have one million booster shots delivered to Oregon by the end of January.
“I know in some parts of the state it’s been a little more difficult to get an appointment for a recall,” she said last week. “Please be patient as the OHA is working with our local partners in the coming days to increase capacity.”
Last week, the Oregon Health Authority put in place a five-point plan to fight omicron. Along with Brown’s recall goal, he includes prioritizing vaccinations for the elderly, especially people in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. The state will deploy mobile vaccination teams and work with communities to set up 35 additional vaccination events in addition to the 93 already scheduled. The state will also add three new high-capacity vaccination sites to the six already open.
By the end of January, state leaders hope to open a large site in the Portland area to provide more complex COVID-19 treatments such as monoclonal antibody therapy, in which people are injected with molecules produced. in the laboratory that act as surrogate antibodies and restore the body’s natural immune response.
State health officials are also working to bring in staff from other states and do more work to promote the need for vaccines and boosters.