Omicron In Sonoma County: Residents Urged To Get Booster

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ROHNERT PARK AND COTATI, CA — Public health officials across the Bay Area, including in Sonoma County, on Friday, urged Rohnert Park, Cotati and all other eligible Bay Area residents to get vaccinated and, if eligible, get a booster shot right away to protect against the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.

Evidence of the variant has been detected in several Bay Area counties. In Sonoma County, the first confirmed case of the Omicron variant was detected Thursday by the Sonoma County Public Health Lab. The patient was fully vaccinated, had received a booster shot earlier this month and recently traveled domestically within the continental United States. The person was boosted but only very recently, and was not yet two weeks out from the final shot, a time period during which antibodies develop, Sonoma County public health officials said.

"Even if you were fully vaccinated earlier this year, two shots are no longer enough," said Dr. Sundari Mase, Sonoma County's health officer. "We know protection from the vaccines declines over time, so booster doses are critical for everyone 16 and older who was vaccinated at least 6 months ago. The vaccine helps prevent infection and transmission of COVID-19. But more importantly, it significantly reduces the severity of illness if you become infected. It could save your life, and it will certainly save the lives of others in our community by slowing the spread of

Public health officials in Alameda, Contra Costa, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano and Sonoma counties, as well as the City of Berkeley, agreed that everyone should get a booster shot when eligible, but particularly those over 50 or those with significant underlying health conditions.

The Bay Area public health agencies said residents should get a booster if they are at least 16 years old and:

  • 6 months have passed since their second dose of Moderna (for 18+)

  • 6 months have passed since their second dose of Pfizer (for 16+)

  • 2 months have passed since their Johnson & Johnson Dose (for 18+)

Local data collected over the past three months show that Sonoma County residents who are unvaccinated are four times more likely to become ill, 15 times more likely to become hospitalized and, as of January 2021, 13 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than people who have been immunized, Sonoma County health officials said.

According to a joint statement Friday from public health officials in Alameda, Contra Costa, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano and Sonoma counties, as well as the City of Berkeley:

"Many more cases of Omicron are expected to be reported in the coming days and weeks, and, based on the exponential growth in cases being seen in Europe, there is a significant risk of exponential growth in 2 of 2 COVID-19 cases in our region. The United Kingdom currently has more COVID-19 cases than at any time during the two-year pandemic. Other highly vaccinated countries that mirror the Bay Area’s high vaccination rates, such as Denmark and Norway, are predicting Omicron will become the dominant variant in a matter of days.

"Evidence suggests that Omicron spreads more rapidly than other variants, and more is being learned every day. Although some evidence suggests that a lower percentage of people infected with Omicron may be hospitalized and die, if a surge causes many thousands of new cases per day, even a small percentage of that total entering our hospitals will overwhelm healthcare delivery systems."

Bay Area public health officials also said Friday that in addition to vaccinations and boosters, masking, testing, ventilation, and distancing remain an effective multi-layered defense against COVID-19.

"As the holiday season is upon us, people should stay mindful of risks and take steps to decrease them," the health officials said.

According to Bay Area health officials, if people must travel or gather for the holidays:

  • Anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 should isolate themselves and get tested as soon as possible.

  • Get tested before gathering or traveling, upon return, and again 3-5 days later.

  • Have everyone ages 5+ get their COVID-19 vaccine and booster if eligible.

  • Take advantage of quick and easy home test kits available in pharmacies and stores.

  • Wear a mask indoors and in crowded settings.

  • Keep group gatherings small. Gather with close family units.

  • Outside gatherings are safer than indoor gatherings.

  • Be particularly cautious around elderly or immunocompromised individuals and consider COVID-19 testing before such interactions.

"Parents of very young children and those who have not been vaccinated should make sure to take all advised precautions," Bay Area public health officials said. "Avoid large gatherings. Always wear a mask in indoor public settings (unless under age 2)."

Rohnert Park and Cotati residents can visit or call 211 for more information about where to get a vaccine or a booster shot.

This article originally appeared on the Rohnert Park-Cotati Patch

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