VACCINE TEAM | Questions about record case numbers, omicron, boosters

With new record COVID-19 cases, many of us have questions about what’s happening. The Vaccine Team is still here to answer your questions.
Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 4:15 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - With new record COVID-19 cases, many of us have questions about what’s happening. The Vaccine Team is still here to answer your questions.

Why are so many vaccinated people getting COVID-19 lately?

A couple of factors are at play, starting with the emergence of the highly contagious omicron variant.

Omicron is more likely to infect people, even if it doesn’t make them very sick.

And its surge coincided with the holiday travel season in many places.

People sometimes mistakenly think the COVID-19 vaccines will completely block infection, but experts say the shots are mainly designed to prevent severe illness.

The vaccines are still doing their job on that front, particularly for people who’ve gotten boosters.

But breakthrough infections appear more likely with omicron.

What’s the latest on the FDA’s decision yesterday to expand boosters for 12- to 15-year olds?

It still needs approval from the Centers for Disease Control.

It would expand emergency use authorization for a Pfizer booster for 12- to 15-year-olds. It would also shorten the time needed before receiving a booster from six months to five months for everyone 12 and older.

This comes at a time when the omicron variant is spreading, and students are heading back to school.

“Let’s not forget that there really aren’t school-aged kids that cannot be immunized at this point. And that’s a really important factor to remember,” said Dr. Gregory Poland, head of Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group. “. You know, when we get these vaccines against COVID-19, you’re taking a disease that has a propensity for long COVID complications, hospitalization and death, and converting it to for the most part to a very mild or asymptomatic disease. Why wouldn’t you get immunized?”

When you get tested are they testing you for omicron?

The FDA says early data suggests that antigen tests do detect the omicron variant but may have reduced sensitivity.

Antigen tests are generally less sensitive and less likely to pick up very early infections compared to molecular tests.

Are current vaccines effective against omicron?

The Centers for Disease Control says breakthrough infections in people fully vaccinated are likely to occur.

But with other variants, the CDC says vaccines remained effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death.

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