Amid omicron uncertainty, Md. and Va. push vaccines, boosters

While there are no confirmed cases of the omicron variant on U.S. soil as of Tuesday morning, many health experts believe it’s likely already circulating here — with renewed calls to vaccinate as the best way of preventing its spread.

“While there is still much unknown about the omicron variant and how it will spread, the most important thing Marylanders can do right now is to get vaccinated or get a booster shot,” said Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. “It is the best way to maintain your immunity and protect yourself and your family from severe illness.”

Hogan notes anyone over the age of 18 is now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine booster. Health experts say that if your last shot came before June 1, you should schedule a booster as soon as possible.

The Virginia Department of Health is offering similar advice when it comes to vaccines and boosters. The agency also promises that it’s actively monitoring viral samples from residents currently infected with the virus around the commonwealth.

“In Virginia, we are fortunate to have a robust genetic sequencing program to determine quickly whether variants of concern are circulating in our communities,” said Dr. Denise Toney, director of Virginia’s public health laboratory, in a statement.

“Our network of laboratories throughout the commonwealth is committed to sequencing as many positive samples as possible.”

The number of mutations in the new omicron strain has sparked alarm among public health professionals across the world, but research is still underway to determine exactly how infectious the variant is compared to others and whether it is more or less capable of causing severe illness.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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