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  • Writer's pictureDr. Bow Tie

COVID-19: WINTER IS COMING (Omicron Update and Holiday Prep)

It’s important to remember, as you read this, that most of you have had multiple vaccines that required multi-dose regimens, given over years. The COVID vaccine, which looks like it will, in fact, require a three-dose series, is not new in this regard. We are just figuring out the span of time over which to give the three doses.

Omicron is showing signs of high transmissibility. We do not know enough yet about that aspect, or its potential to evade vaccines. Preliminary data says that while the vaccines may not be as effective against Omicron as they are against other variants, they should still protect against severe disease (their original intended job). Also, there is definitely going to be more information in the upcoming weeks, so this isn’t the end.

What we do know is:

1. Delta is still the dominant variant for now.

2. Vaccine-mediated immunity is protective against severe disease and hospitalization and, to some extent, even minor disease.

3. Vaccines DO prevent transmission. Vaccine-mediated immunity helps clear the virus faster, which means it cannot spread as much.

4. Infection-mediated immunity is not reliable. People continue to say they don’t need a vaccine if they have had COVID, but that is sadly not true, especially with the newer variants.

5. Vaccines are a PUBLIC HEALTH measure. They only work collectively.

This winter is already looking to be even worse than last year. Not only is COVID heading into a fifth wave, but RSV and influenza are back this year, too, as we’re made to go back to work/school. We’re rapidly approaching 800,000 deaths in this country. We’ve continuously had one of the worst responses to this pandemic, which is why it’s still happening.

I know you’re tired of COVID-19, restrictions, and fear. You want me to stop preaching because we need to “learn to live with COVID.”

I don’t disagree, but it doesn’t mean we just go back to pre-pandemic behavior as this virus rips through us and our loved ones.

If we want to make COVID livable, then:

1. EVERYONE must get vaccinated and boosted/third-dosed (If >18 years old AND >6 months out from mRNA OR >2 months from J&J).

1A. Also get your flu shot!

2. Vaccines must be required for public spaces and travel. Folks must stop faking vaccine cards.

3. For now, we need to keep wearing masks if around folks whose vaccination status we don’t know.

4. Stock up on rapid tests for the holidays. If you’re planning on gathering, make sure everyone is vaccinated and be wary of exposures. Have backup plans or be ready to cancel if there is an exposure, to protect your vulnerable loved ones, especially if you are not fully vaccinated.

In the meantime, if you are gathering with loved ones and someone is spreading disinformation rather than actual virus, here are the four most common questions/myths I have to answer these days. I put them all together in a handy-but-wordy graphic. Enjoy!

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