Date Last Updated: 1/11/22
What is the Omicron variant?
Omicron is the latest variant of COVID-19, and for better or worse it’s likely to blow through very fast. Omicron is more contagious and spreads quickly. The early data suggests illness is not as severe for vaccinated people who get infected. Without vaccine protection, there is still high risk for severe and life-threatening disease.
Who is the most at risk of contracting the Omicron variant?
People who have not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are at most risk of contracting and spreading the Omicron variant. A booster dose will also provide valuable additional protection.
Are the symptoms of the Omicron variant different than the original COVID-19 strain?
Yes, there have been reports where the symptoms associated with the Delta variant have differed from the symptoms associated with the original coronavirus strain.
What are the symptoms?
Generally, symptoms seem much milder than earlier COVID-19 variants, and Omicron can look more like a cold for those with a vaccine. Many people may think they simply have the sniffles or a mild cold.
From a public health perspective, Omicron still has the potential to overwhelm our healthcare system. If half as many people need to go to the hospital but 10 times as many are infected with Omicron, the math doesn’t work in our favor. We appreciate everyone doing their part with masking and vaccination so the healthcare system can take care of those people who will get very sick.
Are fully vaccinated individuals at risk of contracting and spreading the Omicron variant?
If you have received a full vaccine series, your risk is lower than someone who has not been vaccinated. Booster doses protect from severe disease and death, including from the variants currently circulating in the country such as Omicron. However, there have been breakthrough cases across the U.S. If you are fully vaccinated and begin to experience symptoms, you should stay home from work, get tested, and stop the spread.
Know how it spreads
What Should I Do If I’m Exposed to COVID-19?
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has updated its guidance for isolation and quarantine for people who have been exposed to COVID-19. Everyone with a known exposure should attempt to test, if tests are available, 5 days after the known exposure. Mask at all times around others for 10 days, regardless of vaccination status. For those who are boosted and remain asymptomatic, no quarantine is required. For those who are overdue for a booster, a 5-day home quarantine is advised.
For a printable version of this flowchart, click here.
Follow mitigation efforts
Wash your hands often
Avoid close contact
Cover coughs and sneezes
Clean and disinfect
Monitor Your Health Daily