Health officials urging vaccinated Arizonans to get COVID booster shot amid fears over omicron variant

Now that the omicron variant of COVID-19 is on Arizona’s doorstep, the state appears to be preparing by doing more of the same: urging people to wear a mask, and roll up their sleeves for vaccination.

On Dec. 1, more than 3,100 new cases and 43 deaths were reported by the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Delta variant still the major variant, officials say

While no cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19 have been detected in Arizona yet, healthcare experts believe it is only a matter of time, and nobody knows how bad it might be.

"We have not seen this new variant in the state, but it will almost surely be here soon. The delta variant is still spreading in Arizona," said Dr. Michael White, Chief Medical Officer for Valleywise Health.

Of the 44 COVID-19 patients at Valleywise hospital, 42 are unvaccinated, and most are between the ages of 20 and 40.

"We are seeing younger and younger people ending up being very sick, on ventilators in our ICUs, critically ill from COVID-19," said Dr. White.

Dr. White and other health experts are urging Arizonans who have been vaccinated to get a booster shot. People can get a COVID-19 booster shot six months after getting their Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, and two months after their Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

People line up for COVID-19 testing amid fears over new variant

Meanwhile, in North Phoenix, a steady stream of people were lining up at a mobile lab for tests, both concerned about the new variant and also clinging to hope the worst is behind us.

"I think the pandemic has become too politicized. I think it’s time we start trusting our health professionals in the science, not politicians," said Lisa Gervase.

Test results from the lab are an added peace of mind for people who’ve already seen so much, like losing a grandparent.

"What people are gonna say, ‘what were his comorbidities?’ But it really doesn’t matter when there’s one less seat at the dinner table, and millions of families are going through this," said Matthew Steed.

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