Health officials say Omicron is ‘inevitable,’ expect to see variant in Fresno County soon

KSEE24 News

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – Fresno health officials are continuing to monitor the spread of the Omicron variant throughout the golden state. 

It has not been detected in Fresno County yet, but experts predict we will inevitably see it soon. 

Public health officials are reminding people to get their booster shots to better protect themselves against the new variant.

The health department said there are also new treatments to treat COVID-19 patients and those who may not qualify for the vaccine. 

Fresno County is administering around four thousand COVID-19 vaccines a day. About half of them are booster shots and health officials are encouraging eligible populations to get their dose. 

“What a gift that would be for this holiday season.” 

Joe Padro from Fresno’s Department of Public Health said kids in Fresno are also getting their shots. More than 55 sites are providing pediatric doses. 

“13,000 doses have been administered to that 5-11 population in a short amount of time, so really seeing really good movement with that,” said Prado.

As the holidays roll around officials are reminding people not to let their guard down. There are currently 184 coronavirus patients hospitalized in Fresno. 

“I think the strongest evidence about this Omicron variant shows that a third dose of the vaccine is more protective than just 2 doses,” said Padro.

Although Fresno County has yet to see the Omicron variant, officials said it’s only a matter of time.

“We have not yet detected a case of the variant. However, we do feel it’s inevitable and probably going to be just in the next few days,” said Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra.

The health department is also working to ensure rural communities get their booster shots. 

“The farm businesses are actually reaching out to us to make sure that the new farmworkers coming are actually gonna be vaccinated,” said Prado.

Local experts said the good news is there are more ways to prevent and treat COVID-19.

“Now what the FDA has recently given emergency use authorization for is a product from AstraZeneca and this product is actually going to be pre-exposure prophylaxis,” said Vohra.

It’s an antibody cocktail that can be given to patients who are high risk before they catch COVID-19. It’s for patients who may have a weakened immune system and may be ineligible for the vaccine. 

“Vaccines really require a good immune system to form your own antibodies, well some people for whatever reason may not have that strong immune system.” 

Dr. Vohra said the medication will be coming to California soon. He said Fresno can also treat patients with oral antivirals and monoclonal antibodies. They can be used if it’s early in their course. 

60% of our population in Fresno County has at least one dose. 

The health department said the goal is to get to at least 70% this season.

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