Omicron Is Spreading: Why You Shouldn’t Shrug It Off - Nemours Blog


Omicron Is Spreading: Why You Shouldn’t Shrug It Off

Omicron Is Spreading: Why You Shouldn’t Shrug It Off

It’s hard to believe that we are about to start our third pandemic year. We had all hoped that by now COVID-19 would be a thing of the past and life would be getting back to normal. Instead, a variant called omicron is quickly spreading. Lots of people are getting infected from this new variant, and hospitals are filling up.

Many people are feeling frustrated and defeated. If you are one of them, it might be tempting to give in and just drop your guard completely. After all, lots of people are saying that the symptoms of omicron are usually mild, and it feels like everyone will eventually get COVID-19 anyway, right?

Not so fast. There are a few important things to consider.

If everyone gets sick at the same time, lots of people will need the hospital at once. That isn’t safe. The more crowded the hospitals are, the harder it will be for doctors and nurses to take care of patients who have COVID-19 and other problems.

COVID-19 is still somewhat unpredictable. It’s true that omicron generally seems to cause a milder illness than previous variants, and you may know someone who has been infected and had no symptoms at all. But the problem with COVID-19 is that there are some things you can’t anticipate, even in people who had a mild infection or someone without symptoms, such as:

  • Symptoms that last a long time (known as long COVID).
  • Being associated with a rare but serious disease in children called MIS-C.
  • Spreading to someone who is at higher risk of getting very sick (such as young children who can’t get vaccinated yet, or people whose immune system might not work as well, like the elderly and people getting treatment for cancer and other conditions). This can happen even from someone with no symptoms.

So don’t give up now. We can make it through this winter surge by following the basic public health guidelines that we have all become familiar with:

  • Get vaccinated and get a booster shot as soon as you and your children are eligible. That way, even if you get infected, you will be more likely to have mild symptoms or maybe none at all. Vaccines and boosters help prevent severe disease, hospitalization and death from COVID-19, and they work well against the omicron variant too.
  • Wear masks when with other people, especially when indoors. This will help to prevent spreading the virus to other people who may be at higher risk.
  • Socialize outdoors when possible and avoid large crowds.
  • If you feel sick, stay home and get tested if possible.

Some medications for COVID-19 have been developed but they are in short supply, and others are still being studied. Taking precautions doesn’t mean we need to stop living our lives and close everything down. We just need to protect ourselves and others from getting infected, at least for now.

As time goes on, the surge will pass, more people will be vaccinated, and treatments will be better and more available.

Learn More

Questions About Omicron Abound: What’s a Parent to Do? (Nemours Blog)

When COVID-19 Hits Home (Nemours Blog)

Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD, MPH

Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD, MPH is a general pediatrician and a medical editor at Nemours KidsHealth.