CORONAVIRUS UTAH

Virologist: Booster shots needed as omicron spreads in Utah

Dec 21, 2021, 6:38 PM | Updated: 8:38 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – As the omicron variant spreads, Utahns should quickly get their COVID-19 booster shots or initial doses of the vaccine to boost their protection against the virus, according to a researcher with the University of Utah.

“Omicron is here and it’s rising in frequency rapidly,” said Stephen Goldstein, PhD, postdoctoral researcher and virologist at the university’s medical school.

Goldstein said testing shows that about 30% of new cases in Utah are probable for the omicron variant, compared to about 73% nationally.

“We should brace ourselves, there are going to be a lot of breakthrough infections,” Goldstein said. “But the more people who are vaccinated and the more people who are boosted, the less severe those infections are going to be and the fewer deaths we’ll see during the coming omicron wave.”

He said Utah could reach that national level in just a few days.

“I’m concerned because our delta wave is just starting to come down in Utah over the last couple of weeks,” Goldstein said. “The hospitals are still pretty full, and so even a fairly modest rise in hospitalizations from omicron has the potential to swamp our system again.”

Goldstein said there is a significant benefit to getting a booster shot, especially ahead of potential gatherings around the holidays and heading into January.

“Going and getting a booster right now before Christmas is definitely a really, really good idea for protecting yourself during what is likely to be extremely rapid transmission of omicron in Utah in January,” Goldstein said.

Goldstein said those who are fully vaccinated with a booster don’t need to be overly concerned about getting severe disease. For those getting their first dose, he encourages them to start the vaccination series as soon as possible because it will start to provide some protection.

“The protection is going to be more limited than people who have had two or three doses, but it’s absolutely better than being immune naïve when you encounter this virus,” Goldstein said. “And the truth is that a very large percentage of us are going to be exposed to this virus over the next two months, so any degree of immunity you can acquire before that exposure happens is a benefit.”

In addition to getting a vaccine booster, Goldstein also recommends rapid testing before a family gathering and masking indoors, especially around vulnerable people. He urged people to stay home if they are sick.

Goldstein said he is worried about those who haven’t received a booster, the unvaccinated and those who have never been exposed to the virus from a previous infection.

“I think that population is in for a difficult couple of months, and there’s the potential for a high rate of hospitalization in that population,” he said. “We’re all hoping that omicron is milder in people who are immune naïve, but we really just don’t know yet.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Coronavirus Utah

flu shot tripledemic...
Matt Rascon

KSL+: The rise of respiratory viruses and COVID’s impact

It’s not even winter yet, and the CDC is warning that the country is experiencing a resurgence of respiratory viruses, which are taking a toll on hospitals and children.
2 days ago
FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...
Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer

US clears updated COVID boosters for kids as young as 5

The U.S. on Wednesday authorized updated COVID-19 boosters for children as young as 5, seeking to expand protection ahead of an expected winter wave.
2 months ago
...
Alex Cabrero and Mike Anderson, KSL TV

Sandy woman shares frustration of ongoing battle with COVID-19

As life starts to return to normal from the pandemic, for millions of Americans, it still causes a daily struggle. That's the case for one Sandy woman, who shared her story Tuesday.
2 months ago
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 09: A pharmacist prepares to administer  COVID-19 vaccine booster sho...
Jed Boal

University Health recommends getting omicron booster and flu shot now

The CDC approved the COVID-19 bivalent boosters that target the most recent omicron variants on September 1. Since then, tens of thousands of Utahns have rolled up their sleeves.
2 months ago
FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...
Jed Boal

Despite reaching 5,000 deaths, Utah’s COVID-19 numbers are down

The director of the World Health Organization said yesterday about COVID-19, “the end is in sight,” even if we are not there yet.
3 months ago
FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...
LAURA UNGAR AP Science Writer

Is COVID-19 winding down? Scientists say no

New booster shots have arrived and social distancing guidelines have eased but COVID-19 infections aren't going away anytime soon. Experts predict the scourge that's already lasted longer than the 1918 flu pandemic will linger far into the future as the virus continues to cause deaths and may well mutate or evolve into a new disease.
3 months ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Virologist: Booster shots needed as omicron spreads in Utah