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Updated December 29, 2021

COVID-19 Omicron Variant and Boosters

The Omicron variant is the latest strain of the coronavirus to be designated a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization (WHO). Cases are being found in more and more countries, and it has various mutations—like the Delta variant—that may enable it to spread more easily.

The Delta variant still makes up virtually all U.S. cases, but the Omicron variant is being watched closely to better understand how it differs from both the Delta variant and the original coronavirus strain.

The good news is that vaccination, boosters, and general prevention strategies remain the best way to keep you and your loved ones safe. The CDC encourages everyone 5 and older to get vaccinated, and boosters are recommended for everyone 18 years and older.

Everside Health Can Help!

Your Everside provider is happy to discuss your questions or concerns regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. Reach out to your health center today or use the Everside member app to get in touch with your care team.

If you are an employer or Union client, contact us to learn how we can help you with testing or vaccines.

Scientists and doctors worldwide are studying the Omicron variant and how it may differ from previous strains. The number of worldwide cases is still very low in contrast to the Delta strain.

This new strain only emphasizes the importance of getting vaccinated if you have not already done so. All FDA-approved or authorized vaccines are expected to be effective against severe illness, hospitalization, and death.

Like many vaccines—including the yearly flu vaccine—a booster increases your body’s immune system response to the virus in question. Think of it as your immune system being “reminded” how to successfully fight the coronavirus.

Regardless of which vaccine you received, the CDC encourages everyone 18 years and older to get their booster. And if you haven’t already received the initial vaccine, now is the time to do so to keep yourself and loved ones safe.

No. If you received the Pfizer vaccine, you do not necessarily need to receive the Pfizer booster. Likewise, if you received the Moderna vaccine, you do not necessarily need to receive the Moderna booster. A booster from any of the approved vaccines will work in the same way.

You may prefer to get the same booster as your original vaccine, but it is not required.

The approved boosters are the same formula as the original vaccines. There is no difference between them. You should bring your CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record card with you to your appointment, so the provider can fill in the info about your booster dose.

Much like your first vaccine, you may experience side effects after receiving your booster. These are normal signs that your body is building protection against COVID-19.

You should contact a healthcare provider if the redness or tenderness where the shot was given gets worse after 24 hours, or if the side effects are worrying and do not seem to be going away after a few days. If you or your child think you may be having a severe allergic reaction after leaving the vaccination site, seek immediate care by calling 911.

If you did not receive a vaccination record card or lost yours, contact the vaccination site where you got your first shot or your state health department to get a card.

A select number of Everside health centers have received the COVID-19 vaccine. We are continually working to expand our capacity and work with federal and state guidelines to offer vaccines to all Everside members.

Your Everside health center will reach out to you when a vaccine is available and help you set up an appointment. We encourage all Everside members to get their COVID-19 booster—or vaccine if they haven’t—at their earliest availability.

You can also use the CDC’s COVID Vaccine Finder for help in locating and schedule a booster or vaccine appointment near you at www.vaccines.gov.

Currently, three vaccines are authorized and recommended in the United States to prevent COVID-19:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech
  • Moderna
  • Johnson & Johnson / Janssen

The CDC recommends getting the first vaccine that is available to you. All three vaccines are safe, effective, and reduce your risk of severe illness from the COVID-19 virus.

The CDC is shortening the recommended time for isolation from 10 days for people with COVID-19 to 5 days, if asymptomatic, followed by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others.

For people who are unvaccinated or are more than six months out from their second mRNA dose (or more than 2 months after the J&J vaccine) and not yet boosted, it is now recommended to quarantine for 5 days followed by strict mask use for an additional 5 days. However, individuals who have received their booster shot do not need to quarantine following an exposure but should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure. For all those exposed, test for SARS-CoV-2 at day 5 after exposure.

New guidance suggest that you should be wearing a well-fitted surgical mask, not cloth masks or gators.

Both the CDC and the FDA recommend use of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. The known risks of COVID-19 and its possibly severe complications far outweigh the potential risks of having a rare adverse reaction to vaccination.

Both the CDC and the FDA recommend use of the J&J vaccine, after a temporary pause in April 2021. This pause was due to reports of adverse events following the use of the J&J vaccine that suggest an increased risk of a rare event called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). Nearly all reports of this serious condition, which involves blood clots with low platelets, have been in adult women younger than 50 years old.

A review of all available data at this time shows that the J&J vaccine’s known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks.

However, women younger than 50 years old especially should be aware of the rare but increased risk of this adverse event and that there are other COVID-19 vaccine options available for which this risk has not been seen.

No. The vaccines being produced now will not have any COVID-19 virus in them and therefore cannot give you COVID-19. Some people experience side effects after receiving a vaccine (including the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine), but these side effects are not the virus. It is impossible to get the COVID-19 virus from the COVID-19 vaccine.

Yes. We do not know how long immunity lasts after an infection, but we do know that this immunity is not permanent. You should still get the vaccine even if you’ve already had COVID-19, but you should wait until you are out of the isolation or acute phase of infection (generally 10 days).

You can discuss with your Everside or local provider on when to get your vaccine or booster, if you’ve recently had COVID-19.

Yes. Pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people. If you are pregnant, you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy can protect you from severe illness from COVID-19. If you have questions about getting vaccinated, a conversation with your healthcare provider might help, but is not required for vaccination.

The good news is that practicing safe measures is still effective at reducing the chances of the virus’s spread. This means hand washing, mask-wearing, and social distancing whenever possible—especially when in indoor public spaces.

Remember: Getting vaccinated and practicing these safe measures is not only for your own health. You’re also protecting those around you, especially the elderly, those with chronic conditions, and those who are immune-compromised and may not be eligible for a vaccine.