PORTSMOUTH, RI — Booster shots, available at pharmacies/clinics in Portsmouth, are the best defense against COVID-19 illnesses as the omicron variant of the coronavirus spreads across the country, according to health officials.
Breakthrough COVID-19 cases from the omicron variant — infections among the vaccinated — are less common among people who have received their third vaccination shots, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The omicron variant, first reported in South Africa on Nov. 24, has been detected in all but a handful of states, including Rhode Island.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said Friday the Pfizer and Moderna booster shots work well against the omicron variant and that there’s no need for a specific vaccine to fight it.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the omicron variant is likely to become the dominant coronavirus strain in the coming weeks. It currently represents 3 percent of new infections.
Public health officials are concerned that vaccination rates — currently 61 percent of eligible Americans are fully vaccinated, and only 28 percent have gotten booster shots — are insufficient to fend off a fifth wave of the coronavirus. COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are increasing, with about 120,000 new cases and 1,200 deaths reported each day, mainly from the delta variant.
Booster shots are available at retail pharmacies around Rhode Island, including CVS and Walgreens. They can also be found at state-run sites and clinics. See the full schedule and sign up for an appointment at vaccinateri.org.
The CDC says Pfizer and Moderna booster shots both provide increased protection against COVID-19 and helped prevent severe symptoms in breakthrough cases.