Arizona health officials push COVID-19 booster shots as omicron variant continues to spread rapidly

As the U.S. sees another coronavirus surge, health officials in Arizona are urging COVID-19 booster shots.

Currently, the omicron variant of COVID-19 has been detected in all 50 states, and at a vaccination event in South Phoenix on Dec. 22, the variant was on the minds of more than a few people, as the pandemic takes its toll again ahead of Christmas.

"It’s been a long two years," said Shavona White, who took her family to get the COVID-19 vaccine. She and her family have already altered their holiday plans as a result of COVID-19.

"We usually have a big gathering. This will be the second year in a row we don’t," said White. "We want to be safe. We have some older relatives who passed away from COVID, so we want to be safe."

In Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey and AZDHS are set to release a new public service announcement (PSA) that urges people to get booster shots.

Currently, state officials estimate only about a third of eligible Arizonans have received the booster shot. Data also shows breakthrough COVID-19 cases still being significantly lower for vaccinated people. Unvaccinated people are about four times likely to test positive, and are 15 times more likely to die from COVID-19.

"These are the tools in our toolbox now. If we don’t use them, the virus will continue to spread," said Special Pandemic Advisor Dr. Richard Carmona. "Eventually, it will stop spreading once it’s infected everybody, but the cost will be much higher to society."

MORE: Find COVID-19 vaccine locations in your area

2,000+ cases reported in Arizona just days before Christmas

On Dec. 22, officials with AZDHS report 2,806 news COVID-19 cases and 74 deaths.

According to AZDHS' COVID-19 dashboard, there are now 1,344,183 total cases in Arizona, and 23,816 total deaths.

Data also shows that 68.7% of eligible people have been vaccinated against COVID-19. The same data also shows a big demographic gap in vaccination, with over 2.1 million white, non-Hispanic people having received at least one dose, compared to 861,299 Hispanics or Latinos, 198,820 Native Americans, 177,011 Asian or Pacific Islanders, and 139,958 African Americans.

MORE: Coronavirus in Arizona: Latest case numbers

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COVID-19 symptoms

Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu. 

Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.

RELATED: Is it the flu, a cold or COVID-19? Different viruses present similar symptoms

COVID-19 resources

CDC Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)

AZDHS Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)