With the number of Omicron cases in the United States now on the decline, and with close to 64% of the population fully vaccinated (27% fully vaccinated and boosted), Americans are finally starting to feel like they can see the light at the end of the tunnel. And while cases are significantly falling in many parts of the country, in many other parts of the U.S. Omicron has likely still yet to peak. In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General recently warned that a “national peak” hasn’t been reached yet with hospitalizations continuing to put stress on health systems.
That said, many health experts are predicting that at some point, this spring, Omicron should officially be in the national rear view mirror.
The end of the pandemic?
Many are now wondering if the end of Omicron will mark the end of the pandemic, or if there are more variants lurking around the corner. Unfortunately, the only thing infectious disease experts know for sure is that this virus has proven to be extremely unpredictable. In other words, we’ll just have to wait and see. But here is some good news to perhaps give you a little comfort: there is strong sentiment among health experts that if there is a next variant, based on the current pattern, it will likely be milder.
Still, this virus is unlikely to disappear completely, which means that COVID-19 will continue to be a part of our lives—in some form or fashion—for years to come and transition into an endemic disease.
Wait, what’s an endemic?
An endemic is when people can safely live with a virus, because most adults are protected against severe infection due to exposure as children. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen quickly, but instead takes years. It also means that many older people will keep having to get vaccinated, because they will not have the benefit of being exposed to the virus as children.
This means regardless of what’s next, we all will likely have to continue to pay attention to COVID-19 and be mindful of preventing the spread of disease, much like the flu.
Vaccines by the numbers
The numbers speak for themself. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) most of the people who are hospitalized and die from COVID-19 are not vaccinated. In fact, a study showed that unvaccinated adults, age 18 and older, carry a 15-times-higher risk of dying from COVID-19 than fully vaccinated adults, and 68-times-higher risk of dying compared to boosted adults.
So, the moral of the story: if you haven’t yet done so, it is important to protect yourself, and others against the spread of COVID-19 by getting vaccinated and boosted at your local community pharmacy, because it really works!
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