COVID Update: Health Department still encourages vaccinations as Omicron reaches U.S.

On Dec. 1, Humboldt County COVID-19 Joint Information Center held a news conference to discuss the new COVID variant B.1.1.529, otherwise known as Omicron. The first case of the variant in the U.S was reported in San Francisco that same day.

“We are encouraging anyone who’s had international travel in the last 14 days to get tested,” said Dr. Ian Hoffman, Humboldt County health officer.

As more Omicron cases around the world begin to rise, not much is known about the severity or the contagiousness of it. For now, Humboldt County is following the CDC’s guidelines and Hoffman advised the public to get the vaccine or boosters. 

“People ask if they should wait until there is a booster shot for Omicron, and I say no you shouldn’t,” said Hoffman. “You don’t wait to put your seatbelt on until you’re 20 miles down the road. You put your seatbelt on now because you don’t know when you’re going to get hit.”

The CDC recommends that people continue to wear masks indoors, wash their hands frequently and maintain a 6 feet distance from others. Adults and children 5 and up are encouraged to get vaccinated, and those who have been vaccinated, are encouraged to get a booster shot when they become eligible.

Hoffman reported that 68% of the Latinx community in Humboldt County received at least the first dose of the COVID vaccination.He recommends that children under 5 be kept out of highly populated areas and those age 2 and up should wear their masks when in crowded areas. 

When to get the booster shot and who is eligible?

According to Humboldt County’s COVID-19 resource list:

Residents who completed a two-dose series of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months ago are eligible for a booster dose if they are in one of the following groups:

  • People 65 years and older should receive a booster
  • Residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster
  • People aged 50–64 years with certain underlying medical conditions should receive a booster
  • People aged 18–49 years with certain underlying medical conditions may receive a booster, based on their individual benefits and risks
  • People aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster, based on their individual benefits and risks.

All residents who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at least two months ago should receive a booster dose of any of the vaccines currently authorized in the United States.

What to expect when getting the booster shot?

Symptoms from the booster shot have been reported to be similar to the initial doses. Your CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card will be needed so they can fill out that you have received the booster shot. 

Where to get vaccinated? 

Humboldt County Health officials have been providing vaccines every week at Public Health Clinics throughout the county. People can also check local pharmacies to get vaccinated or visit www.vaccines.gov to schedule an appointment.

For local COVID-19 information in English or Spanish, call (707) 441-5000.

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