AUSTIN (KXAN) — The omicron variant was detected in Houston this week, and state doctors say it’s likely in other cities as well — even if there’s no official report of it yet.
“Texans all across the state should make the safe assumption that omicron is here,” said Dr. Mark Casanova, who is on the Texas Medical Association’s COVID-19 Task Force. “If it’s not here today, it’ll be here tomorrow … At the end of the day, the more folks you have infected, the greater the likelihood of individuals becoming seriously infected.”
Austin Public Health reported a record week for booster appointments. Last week, it administered 5,157 vaccines, with 84% being boosters.
“[Omicron] is an unknown, and it’s best to get fully protected as much as you can,” said Chris Crookham with APH.
Private groups administering COVID-19 vaccines are also slammed.
“We had to open for public clinics three additional days this week when we normally would not have been open, just to support the community who’s looking for it,” said Wendy Garner, CEO of Point of Care Health.
So far, omicron has produced milder symptoms in those infected by it.
“Viruses can in the midst of pandemics, in essence, burn themselves out. And they do that by mutating in various forms that eventually fizzle,” said Casanova. But regarding this potentially signaling the end of the pandemic, he said, “I think it’s a little too early to hang our hat on that though.”
Health experts say it’s no time to let your guard down, especially with indoor holiday gatherings taking place over the next month.
That’s why Austin man Chris de la Garza got his booster Tuesday.
“If I can take the opportunity to protect them and myself a little bit more, to me it was a smart move,” he said. “It’s easy enough to get a jab, so why not.”
APH notes the more-severe delta variant has not gone away, and vaccination is key to stopping the spread.