Doctor says omicron variant may be more contagious but not most dangerous

Health leaders are encouraging vaccinated individuals to get a booster dose of the vaccine

About 150,000 passengers a day are expected to travel through the Orlando International Airport the rest of the year.

New state health data is expected to be released Friday showing current COVID-19 rates. Health experts are predicting to see a spike in cases due to the omicron variant.

Dr. Jason Salemi, an associate professor of epidemiology at the USF College of Public Health said the omicron variant may have a higher reinfection rate than any COVID-19 strain prior. Having any amount of prior built-up immunity following an original infection of the virus may play a role in symptoms being less severe for the patient infected a second time.

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“The fact that omicron is causing a lot of reinfections might make it look as though it’s less severe than it actually is,” Salemi said. “Omicron has shown the ability to transmit from person to person even more than delta, if you can imagine that.”

Salemi said something state health leaders are keeping a close eye on is data showing about a 20% increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the past two weeks in Florida. He adds that case amounts in a 48-hour period are now equal to what cases were for an entire week recently.

Health leaders are encouraging vaccinated individuals to get a booster dose of the vaccine, adding it’s been a year since the first vaccine doses were given. Health leaders believe immunity from vaccines does wear off over time, but how much is still unknown.

“If somebody like my parents’ age, near 80 got vaccinated way back in February and hasn’t gotten that booster dose, they have may have some waning immunity. Those vaccines may not be as effective against omicron,” Salemi said.

Getting a rapid test at the last minute prior to traveling is the most accurate way to know your infection status, according to Salemi.

About the Author:

Troy graduated from California State University Northridge with a Bachelor's Degree in Communication. He has reported on Mexican drug cartel violence on the El Paso/ Juarez border, nuclear testing facilities at the Idaho National Laboratory and severe Winter weather in Michigan.