Facing Omicron: What’s Changed, What’s the Same and What Do I Need to Do Now?

 

Omicron is here and it is spreading fast. With this variant being so contagious, it is causing a huge rise in cases. These rising numbers are putting our local hospital at risk. As numbers rise, we must do all that we can to stop the spread of Omicron.

  • In the fight against Omicron, no single action is perfect. The more actions we take, the better we will do in slowing down the rise in cases. We can refer to this as “layering our protection”.
  • We have several tools available to us and we must use each one to layer our protection against Omicron and stop it from spreading. Those action are:
    1. Get vaccinated – whether it is your 1st, 2nd or 3rd (booster) dose, get it.
    2. Reduce your contacts – limit the number of people you see and places you go.
    3. Wear a high quality, well-fitted mask and physically distance away from those you do not live with.
    4. Breathe fresh air as mush as possible. Limit the air you share.
    5. If you have any symptoms, even mild ones, self-isolate right away. Follow the self-isolation instructions on our Stop the Spread page.

What is a booster shot?

    • Booster shots are given after the immunity from the initial doses of vaccine naturally start to decrease.
    • Booster shots and 3 dose vaccine series are common for many existing vaccines.
    • Boosters provide improved protection against infection and protection against severe illness and death.

Why do I need a COVID-19 booster, or 3rd dose?

    • Vaccine effectiveness against COVD-19 goes down over time, especially in older adults over the age of 50 and those who are immunocompromised.
    • 2 doses worked well against Delta. Omicron is not Delta. Omicron is showing to be much more contagious. A 3rd dose is important for keeping up your immunity and providing another layer of protection.
    • A 3rd dose of COVID-19 vaccine will provide more protection than just 2 doses.

Can I mix and match vaccine brands for my 3rd dose?

    • Yes. It is safe to mix and match vaccine brands. The mRNA vaccines, Moderna and Pfizer, are considered interchangeable.
    • A 3rd dose of either Moderna or Pfizer is better than no 3rd dose at all. The longer you wait around for your preferred brand of vaccine, the longer you remain unprotected against serious illness from contracting the virus.

If we need a 3rd dose shot, are the vaccines working?

    • Yes. COVID-19 vaccines are working. However, public health experts are starting to see reduced protection over time. It is common for vaccine effectiveness to decrease over time. There are several other vaccines that require additional doses to keep up immunity – such as Hepatitis A & B, tetanus, diphtheria, and pneumonia.

If vaccines are working, why are hospitalizations going up?

    • Vaccines are only one way of protecting yourself against Omicron. Because Omicron is very contagious, it is causing a huge spike in cases. This huge spike in cases is what is causing the large number of hospitalizations. We must get the spread of Omicron under control to protect our health care systems. Vaccines play an important role in keeping people out of hospitals and out of the ICU. Unvaccinated people continue to be the majority of cases needing hospitalization and ICU care.

I’ve already had COVID-19, do I need a 3rd dose?

    • Yes. Even if you’ve already had COVID-19 and recovered, you should still get a 3rd dose. If you were recently infected, you can get your 3rd dose:
      • After you have completed your self-isolation period
        AND
      • Are symptom free for at least 24hrs (or 48hrs for GI symptoms, such as nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain)

Note: The best time to get a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot is 30 days after an active infection, and it should definitely be an mRNA booster at that time.

Currently* only 45.4% of Chatham-Kent residents aged 18+ have received their 3rd dose, leaving more than half of the community – many of which are still not eligible to receive their booster dose – at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill and/or being hospitalized after infection. We can do better.

To book your COVID-19 vaccine today (whether it be 1st Dose, 2nd Dose or booster) visit www.GetYourShotCK.ca or call 519-351-1010.

 

Sources:

*Vaccination rates as published on January 12, 2022

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/booster-shots-and-third-doses-for-covid19-vaccines-what-you-need-to-know

https://covid19-sciencetable.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Slide-Deck_Ask-the-SAT_20211223-2.pdf

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/vaccine/booster

https://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/public/programs/immunization/static/immunization_tool.html#adult

https://www.who.int/news/item/22-12-2021-interim-statement-on-booster-doses-for-covid-19-vaccination—update-22-december-2021

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/effectiveness/why-measure-effectiveness/breakthrough-cases.html

https://covid19-sciencetable.ca/ontario-dashboard/#riskbyvaccinationstatus

https://www.publichealthontario.ca/-/media/documents/ncov/vaccines/2022/01/covid-19-oiac-4th-dose-recommendations-older-adults-ltc.pdf?sc_lang=en

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/vaccination-adults.html

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