Omicron Variant and Recommendation for Boosters: A Letter from the Nooksack Health Officer

Health Center

December 16, 2021

Out of concern about the Omicron variant, the CDC has recommended that everyone 16+ receive a COVID-19 booster dose. Within the last few weeks, the Omicron variant has come to Washington. This variant appears to spread twice as quickly as the Delta variant, which spread too quickly already. It will likely replace Delta in our region very quickly, most likely within a few weeks. Prior COVID infection does not protect well against this strain, and we do not yet know how effective the vaccines will be.

This is a serious development. Already St. Joe’s is running over 100% occupancy, which means that both ill people with COVID and ill people from everything else (car crashes, heart attacks) may not be able to get into the hospital.

The greatest risk is for the unvaccinated. If you know any one that is not immunized, please ask them to do so now. Anyone ages 5 and older can now get vaccinated. Vaccination protects both the individual and the community. If a high-risk person becomes infected, it is very important that they seek care immediately by calling the clinic or going to urgent care in town after calling. There are infusions (monoclonal antibodies) and some medications that can be lifesaving IF taken early enough — within 24 hours of onset of symptoms. These interventions are for those at high-risk of complications, elders, and those with immune compromise. Conditions like diabetes are immunocompromizing IF it is not well controlled. So now is a time to be sure to take your medications, eat healthy, and go for that walk every day.

We want to inform you that everyone ages 16+ can now get a COVID-19 vaccine booster.

You can get your booster:

  • 6 months after your 2nd dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine; or
  • 2 months after your single dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.

The COVID-19 vaccines continue to work very well at preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death, including from the Delta variant. A booster shot is an extra dose that helps keep up protection.

At this point, over-the-counter rapid antigen tests are also available. Every family should keep some available at home. At this time, cough with a fever remains the most common accurate symptoms that testing is recommended for. 

Between now and the end of the year is a time to be much more careful about wearing a mask and staying with those you live with. If there are elders in your family be sure to call them every day to check in.

Our community has done a great job so far but the hardest part of this pandemic has just arrived. By mid-January we should be past the worst of it, but for now we need to increase our efforts to protect those that are not able to protect themselves.

Sincerely,

Frank James MD

Health Officer
Nooksack Indian Tribe
FJames@nooksack-nsn.gov