NEW ORLEANS — The Omicron variant is now the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the US and here in Louisiana, our COVID numbers have more than doubled in the past week.
In this case, it’s not just hitting the unvaccinated.
The latest data from the Louisiana Department of Health shows that 80% of cases between Dec. 2 and Dec. 8 were among people who hadn’t gotten a COVID vaccine. And while vaccines are still the best tool against COVID, LSU Health’s Chief of Infectious Diseases Dr. Julio Figueroa says they’re not bullet proof.
“We definitely are seeing breakthrough cases with COVID,” Dr. Figueroa said. “To get the two shots, (isn’t enough) for Omicron. Again, there's probably some protection of severe disease, but in terms of getting sick, no."
There are many reasons behind breakthrough cases, like low booster rates and the new highly-transmissible Omicron variant. Also, two years into the pandemic, people are trying to get back any sense of normalcy and forgetting about social distancing and mask wearing.
"So the problem with breakthrough cases is yourself, but the other part is your continuing the chain of transmission to other members in the community,” Dr. Figueroa said.
The good news is breakthrough cases can be less severe — including with Omicron.
Still, Dr. Figueroa says we can’t let our guard down. The unvaccinated need to get vaccinated and boosters are strongly encouraged to help keep that immunity up.
And with the holidays here, he adds people must be cautious.
“Look at the things you're doing and the people around you and surround yourself with as many vaccinated people as possible, reduce the number of people exposed to, wear mitigation strategies,” Dr. Figueroa said.
With the latest rise in cases, there’s fear Louisiana could be entering another wave. And vaccinated or not, heal experts say everyone is at risk and must do what they can to keep themselves and others safe.