Even with data showing Covid-19 vaccines’ reduced effectiveness against the Omicron variant, it’s important for people to get vaccinated, said Heather Scobie, a member of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Enhanced Surveillance Epidemiology Task Force Covid-19 Emergency Response.
“Given the increased risk related to the Delta and Omicron variant, it is important to increase uptake of primary vaccination and booster doses in all eligible populations,” Scobie told the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Thursday.
The Delta variant has been dominant in the US since August, causing up to 99% of Covid-19 cases, and is now causing 96.7% of cases, Scobie said.
She added that the CDC is closely monitoring real-world vaccine effectiveness and watching breakthrough infections. The CDC is also watching the effects the Omicron variant is having on various populations.
To date, 37 states have reported Omicron cases. Of the 43 cases that the CDC has full details on, 33% had an international travel history. Nearly 80% were fully vaccinated, and 32% had a booster dose, though some of them had gotten the booster within 14 days of symptom onset. Fourteen percent had previous infections.
Scientists are still looking at how effective Covid-19 treatments are against Omicron, but “some treatments are still likely to be excellent,” she said.
To slow the spread of the variant, Scobie said that in addition to vaccination and boosters, there should be an increased use of masking, an effort to improve ventilation, wider and more frequent testing, and more adherence to guidance on quarantine and isolation when exposed to, or sick with, Covid-19.
“This is a changing landscape, and CDC will communicate properly about emerging evidence,” Scobie said.