Here’s what NC doctor says you need to know about COVID omicron variant, vaccines

·2 min read

A new variant of COVID-19 is causing concern around the world as countries, including the U.S., impose travel bans on some nations in southern Africa.

But one North Carolina doctor says there’s no need to panic now.

North Carolinians should continue wearing masks and getting vaccinated against the coronavirus, Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist infectious disease expert Dr. Christopher Ohl told reporters Monday.

The new mutation, called omicron, “raises some concern,” Ohl said. “Unfortunately, we don’t know a heck of a lot more than that right now. It’s going to take some time for figure out what all this means.”

The respiratory virus season is here in North Carolina and will continue through the early part of next year as always, Ohl said. Respiratory viruses will be prevalent, including some influenza and COVID-19, probably delta variant cases, he said.

But the new omicron mutation could add unpredictable surges — though no cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19 have been reported yet in the U.S.

COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses are available across Mecklenburg amid rising omicron variant concerns.
COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses are available across Mecklenburg amid rising omicron variant concerns.

Some experts have voiced concern that the new variant could prove resistant to the existing COVID-19 vaccine. It’s unlikely that the omicron variant will be completely resistant, Ohl said.

That’s why it’s still important for everyone eligible for the COVID-19 shots (everyone age 5 and older) and everyone eligible for COVID-19 booster doses (all people age 18 and older) get vaccinated as soon as possible.

The COVID-19 vaccine will likely still prevent hospitalizations and serious disease from the omicron variant, Ohl said.

“And if you’ve been boosted, that will give you even more protection against omicron,” he added.

There may be some time before the omicron variant shows up in NC, Ohl said.

“And if we still wear our masks indoors, and if we get vaccinated and boosted — the goal of this is to through the respiratory viral season until April when transmission will be less likely,” he said.

Here’s where you can get your COVID-19 vaccine and booster doses throughout the Charlotte area:

Novant Health

Anyone eligible for the vaccine or booster dose can schedule an appointment with Novant Health using a MyChart account or at GetVaccinated.org.

Atrium Health

Eligible people can make appointments with Atrium Health through MyAtriumHealth or at AtriumHealth.org/COVID19Vaccine or by calling 704-468-8888.

Mecklenburg County Public Health

Anyone eligible for the shots can make an appointment with Mecklenburg County online or by calling 980-314-9400. More details are available at www.MeckNC.gov/COVID-19.

StarMed Healthcare

Patients can register online for vaccines or booster doses with StarMed, or by calling 980-445-9818.

Pharmacies and other locations

To find other COVID-19 vaccine locations, visit Vaccines.gov to search by ZIP code.