SWFL could see higher vaccination rates as omicron variant surfaces

Reporter: Zach Oliveri Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News

While the omicron variant of COVID-19 has not yet had a confirmed U.S. case, President Biden says it is only a matter of time.

But this newly discovered COVID-19 variant is pushing more people in Southwest Florida to get their first vaccine dose or a booster.

The World Health Organization says the new variant poses a very high risk for the world. Researchers are still racing to learn more about it as well.

While the world waits for more information to be released, health experts say the best thing we can do is protect ourselves. And now pharmacists say they’re seeing more people roll up their sleeves and get the shot.

A man received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday at Collier Pharmacy. And, according to pharmacist Girish Patel, that man is not alone.

“The omicron is coming, and people are coming in,” said Patel. He’s seen more people come into the pharmacy ever since the omicron variant became a threat.

“People are coming for the booster shot, and some people are afraid, and they’re coming too. So hope so in the near future, we might be busy,” Patel said.

There are still unknowns about the omicron variant. But the WHO has announced that the new variant has a very high risk of infection. “If you’re somebody infected and with contact, it can spread very fast, and that’s why it’s dangerous,” said Patel.

Again, the omicron variant is reportedly not in the United States. Therefore, people who spoke to WINK News say they aren’t worried just yet.

Kevin Varnes lives in Naples. “We’re not changing anything. We’re not masking up. We’re just trying to move forward and get past all this,” said Varnes.

Brad Green also lives in Naples. “Back then, we were wearing gloves and shopping with double masks and sanitizing everything where now we’re not as concerned. I think we know a lot more,” said Green.

People hope the uncertainty about omicron’s impact on the U.S. will push more people to get vaccinated. “If you don’t like to mask up, then get the vaccine. I don’t see the reason why not to,” said Luis Perez of Cape Coral.

“Be calm, be resilient, and protect yourself with the vaccination,” Patel said.

Patel encourages those who are not yet vaccinated to get the vaccine to protect their loved ones and our community.

Appointments to get your vaccine are available all across Southwest Florida. If you’re looking for a vaccine appointment, follow this link.

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