Health officials urge vaccines and boosters amid new COVID variant concerns

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CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) — While it’s unknown at this time how effective the current COVID-19 vaccines are against the Omicron variant, Pfizer and Moderna have already said there are plans in place to adapt their vaccines in light of the variant emerging. Medical experts believe it illustrates their need to continue calling for people to roll up their sleeve.

“I cannot emphasize enough the importance of vaccinating everyone. Now that children between five and 11 are also eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, it is very important to prevent school setting outbreaks,” said Dr. Tomoko Udo from the University at Albany School of Public Health.

“The more people we encourage to be vaccinated, the less likely we’ll have another opportunity for the virus to mutate,” said Dr. Howard Fritz, Chief Medical Officer of Glens Falls Hospital.

“The reason there are variants in communities, most of the time, is because the virus has spread so much because people aren’t vaccinated,” explained Alan Sanders, MD, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Albany Med. “The more that people get infected who aren’t vaccinated, the more chance the virus has to mutate.”

The Omicron variant has not yet been detected in New York State, but Governor Kathy Hochul has warned that it will inevitably arrive.

New York State has been tracking different variants of COVID-19 since the beginning of the year, when the Delta variant first popped up.

Data listed on the state’s coronavirus tracking website shows, over the last two weeks, the delta variant accounts for every single new case of the virus.

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