Experts urge booster shots amid omicron variant surge

File photo of health worker extracting vaccine from a vial.
File photo of health worker extracting vaccine from a vial.(WILX)
Published: Jan. 3, 2022 at 11:53 AM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The CDC reports that the omicron variant of COVID-19 now accounts for 58% of new cases.

The surge comes as students prepare to head back to the classroom after winter break.

“It’s winter, so people are inside more,” said emergency physician Dr. Thomica James-Evans. “People are communing more and those are perfect factors for any virus or bacterium to spread.”

Doctors say many are feeling pandemic fatigue or a feeling of being worn out by recommended pandemic-related precautions and restrictions.

“We all have to dig deep muster our energy and will and have a deep conviction and a belief that we will get through this if we do that,” said New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi.

In South Carolina, DHEC’s latest data shows that more than 73% of COVID cases in November affected people who were not fully vaccinated. Plus, unvaccinated patients accounted for 66% of COVID-related hospitalizations and 67% of COVID deaths.

Doctors say our vaccination and booster rate need to increase to slow the omicron variant quickly.

“Given the size of our country and the diversity of vaccination versus non-vaccination, it might be more than a couple of weeks. More than likely the end of January,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Advisor to the President and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

As many Midlands students head back to school this week, a source tells NBC that the FDA is looking to expand booster eligibility to the 12 to 15 age group within the next few days.

“The booster doses are significantly reducing your chances of getting Omicron,” said urgent care physician Dr. George Loukatos. “If you haven’t had a booster, you’re at pretty high risk of getting Omicron. But, if you’ve had your two series or if you’ve had your single J&J, people seem pretty well protected against getting severely ill.”

DHEC data shows that only 7.3% of South Carolina kids ages 5 to 11 have completed their COVID-19 vaccination.

To find a COVID-19 vaccination site near you, click here.

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