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Push for booster shots grow as more cases of omicron variant found in the U.S.

Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 9:52 PM CST

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The push for booster shots is growing as the new omicron COVID-19 variant spreads in the U.S.

Since Wednesday, new cases of the COVID-19 omicron variant have been detected in California, Minnesota, New York, and Colorado.

Despite aggressive genetic sequencing testing, the first case has not been detected in Shelby County just yet.

“So, I’m clearly concerned about this new variant because it can spread very quickly,” said infectious disease expert Dr. Manoj Jain. “From the studies we’ve seen from South Africa, it can cause community transmission, meaning a large number of people in the community can get infected in a very short time. We’re talking about days and weeks.”

Jain says more studies are being done to see if the variant is evasive of the current vaccine.

Moderna’s president says they could have an omicron-specific booster shot available by March, but Jain says he is very confident the current booster shot will be effective against the new strain.

“I say that because normally when we see people get vaccinated, between the first and second dose, and there’s a longer gap period between those vaccinations, the immunity is better,” Jain said.

Even without the omicron variant being detected, Shelby County is seeing a slight uptick in COVID-19 cases and with the holidays just around the corner, there’s a fear of another bump in cases.

“I think people are going to get together and enjoy themselves,” Jain said in regard to Christmas in the Mid-South. “And I’ll tell you this, there’s an opportunity to enjoy themselves and feel confident and secure if they can call their relatives to get vaccinated. That will be the best Christmas ever.”

Jain says in addition to getting more people vaccinated, it’s important to get tested as well.

Knowing your status before gathering with people outside of your household will be the key to keeping any potential surge of a variant at bay.

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