STAFF EDITORIAL: With Omicron’s Emergence Comes a Reminder About Boosters

Zack Miller | The PhoenixThe Phoenix Editorial Board urges people to get the booster shot amid the arrival of a new COVID variant.

We know you’re sick of hearing about COVID. Quite frankly, we’re sick of writing about it. But we have to keep it up because we don’t want you or us to get actually sick.

The discovery of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has taken up a significant portion of the news in recent days, but it also serves as a reminder for Americans to get their booster shots. 

The appearance of this new “variant of concern,” just months after battling the Delta variant, doesn’t fall squarely on the shoulders of the average individual. Rather, culpability lies with the governments and companies putting profit over health by refusing to truly create a vaccine freely available to all across the globe. 

While changes in a virus are natural, large swaths of unvaccinated people serve as the main breeding ground for potentially more dangerous variants that undermine the efficacy of vaccines and other mitigation measures. 

A truly global and free — both at the point of service and in terms of patents — vaccination campaign is the only thing that can truly quash potentially stronger variants from coming out of the woodwork and ruining the fragile progress so many have died to attain.

Moderna recently affirmed its decision to not share its vaccine recipe with other companies, the Associated Press (AP) reported. While the company’s co-founder, Noubar Afeyan, claimed it’s because other companies may not be able to reach the scale of Moderna when starting from scratch, there would be no harm in allowing them to produce what they can while Moderna continues to create its own doses.

They aren’t alone in this, but are a prime example of an issue largely affecting poorer nations, who have struggled to obtain vaccine doses while Americans turn them away. 

That aside, the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) recent changes to vaccine policy have made obtaining a booster easier for the average American.

The CDC expanded both the eligibility and its recommendation about who should get a booster shot to every adult. This includes almost every single student at Loyola, and with a month-long break just a few weeks away, it’s guaranteed that some students will be returning home during this time off. 

There’s still plenty of research to be conducted on Omicron and we are thankful for the hard work of the scientists in South Africa who discovered the variant, but while the jury is still out on whether the variant is more transmissible, deadly or resistant to vaccines, we have to stick to the standard COVID playbook: wash your hands, wear masks, avoid large crowds and get vaccinated. 

While the variant has yet to be identified in the U.S., the list of countries with confirmed cases is growing day by day, so it would be naive to think it won’t make it here shortly if it hasn’t already. Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said she expects Omicron cases to show up in Chicago in the near future during a press conference Tuesday

“I have no reason to think that there are not at least a few cases over here,” Arwady said. “And I would expect us to be formally detecting it in days or weeks.”

So go get your booster — use it as an excuse to skip out on something you don’t want to go to or during the holidays to fend off relatives who aren’t keen on science. Whatever your reason is, get your booster and keep yourself, your fellow Ramblers and your loved ones safe this holiday season.

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