What you need to know about holiday gatherings in the age of Omicron
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In the era of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant, many people may question the safety of the rally even with those who are technically fully vaccinated against COVID but have not received a booster. So to collect or not to collect? Yahoo News medical collaborator Dr Lucy McBride provides advice on how to navigate the holiday season this year at a time when the Omicron is expected to become the dominant strain in the United States in the coming weeks.
LUCY MCBRIDE: So it appears that Omicron is a highly contagious variant of SARS-COV-2. It, too, in the preliminary data, seems perhaps less severe. But it seems that the immunity we get from the vaccination is a little less effective. In other words, we are more susceptible to infections. But the vaccine still protects us from the worst consequences of COVID-19. We therefore recommend that all eligible adults be fortified to optimize their protection and restore their immunity against Omicron to what it was in the first two doses.
We do not yet have good data to show what the likelihood of a breakthrough infection is in someone who has been triple vaccinated. But for the record, I see a lot of patients in my own practice who have had three injections and who are getting COVID. These patients, on the whole, have very mild or no symptoms.
Patients who received Johnson & Johnson as the primary injection should definitely receive a single dose of an mRNA injection, either Pfizer or Moderna. Whether or not people should receive a second injection of mRNA is at the discretion of their doctor. And it should be a shared decision between the patient and the doctor. I recommend my high-risk patients, in particular, to indeed receive two of the mRNA injections after the primary J&J vaccine.
Patients ask me every day if it is safe to do x? Is it safe to do this? And my job is not to tell them whether or not it’s safe to do something. This is to reframe this question. What are the intrinsic risks and benefits of the proposed activity? And I tell my patients. Once vaccinated and stimulated, if they are eligible, they have taken the best possible action to protect themselves, their families and their communities from COVID-19.
That said, mixing with unvaccinated people certainly poses a risk, as unvaccinated people are most at risk of not only COVID but also of passing the virus on to other people. So we know that even people vaccinated against COVID-19 can still transmit the virus to others. But it is significantly reduced compared to the risk of transmission from an unvaccinated person. So one of the best ways to prevent transmission of COVID-19 at a gathering over the holidays, for example, is to make sure you get your vaccine and reminders, and to do a rapid antigen test. on the day of your gathering to roughly make sure you are not carrying infectious levels of the virus at that time. A negative rapid antigen test is kind of a day pass and helps us reunite with our loved ones without fear of passing the virus on to other people.
Well the answer is there is no right or wrong answer about how to live your life. There is inherent risk in everything we do. But the risk is mitigated when vulnerable people are vaccinated and boosted, when grandchildren are vaccinated and boosted, if they are eligible, and when people spend time outdoors, and if they are outdoors. indoors, they take precautions, such as wearing a mask if they are at particularly high risk, doing a quick negative antigen test on the day of the gathering, breaking windows and doors to improve ventilation, and then realizing the benefits of l social unity, since everything we do involves risk.
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