Catching Omicron
Ashley Jowett
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2022

Catching Omicron

The transmissibility of the omicron variant makes it very difficult to avoid. Despite our best efforts—including vaccination, boosting, and following masking, distancing, and handwashing guidance—it’s likely that everyone will get it, eventually. That’s what happened to me, and I would like to share what I learned.

The disease is intense. I am a healthy person with three doses of vaccine. The variant I caught was most likely omicron, which scientists have determined is less severe than the original and delta strains. Even under all of these seemingly favorable conditions, this illness took me out for five days and had me coughing for five more.

Vaccines and boosters are really important. We know that vaccines and boosters work to turn serious cases of COVID into manageable ones. I can’t imagine how sick I would have been without vaccination. Yet, there are still about 100,000 people in Vermont who are not vaccinated, and according to the Governor’s press conference this week, about 140,000 are eligible for a booster shot but have not gotten it yet. Please make the time to take this important step for your health and the health of your community.

Planning is key. In addition to getting vaccinated and boosted, it’s worthwhile to take a moment to think about what you would do if you caught COVID. Then, repeat the exercise for each member of your family. When possible, those who are positive and symptomatic should avoid all contact with those who are not. Consider how your sleeping arrangements, grocery and cooking responsibilities, and other routines could be adapted depending on who was ill. Making plans in advance may take some of the stress out of adapting when the illness strikes.

It is possible to avoid spreading COVID within your household. You would think that the transmissibility of omicron would make any attempt to avoid spreading it in the household futile. In my experience and those of several people I know, efforts to stay separate at home paid off. Some family members did not get sick.

Be sure to report. If you test positive with a home test, report it to the Vermont Department of Health or your local department of health. These officials are using these numbers to determine when it is safe to lift restrictions, so being counted is important. Even more importantly, call your doctor. You may be eligible for an antiviral treatment that could keep symptoms from getting worse.

I am thankful to be on the path to recovery. Thanks to the vaccine and booster, I expect that I won’t suffer any long-term symptoms of COVID. Please get vaccinated and boosted; continue mitigation measures, especially around those who are not vaccinated and boosted; and plan for your own encounter with COVID. 

Alison Camarda, RN, MSN, CEN, CPEN, SANE, is the director of clinical education at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, part of Southwestern Vermont Health Care, in Bennington.

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