(CMR) The new Omicron COVID-19 variant has prompted Cayman health officials to recommend all persons receive booster shots three months after their second COVID-19 vaccination. Scientists in South Africa said on Friday that the newest coronavirus variant appears to spread more than twice as quickly as Delta – which had been the most contagious version of the virus.
The decision comes as a precaution in light of the recent development of the Omicron COVID-19 variant. While research is still being conducted on the new variant, preliminary findings claim Omicron is highly transmissible and has the potential to re-infect those who have previously recovered from COVID-19.
Vaccines continue to be the best proven defense against COVID-19 and should be sought as a protective measure, until more data on Omicron becomes available comments Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriguez.
The Omicron variant has not been found in the Cayman Islands to date.
Dr Williams-Rodriguez adds, “The reduction in time between second and third doses is aligned with the UK Health Security Agency’s current guidance on COVID-19 management. The people of the Cayman Islands are encouraged to get any vaccine dose that they are eligible for as a safety measure, especially as we enter the holiday season. In addition to seeking vaccination, we urge the public to remain vigilant by practicing hand hygiene, wearing masks while in enclosed spaces and making conscious decisions about social gathering.”
Vaccination clinics also remain open for first and second doses for all persons aged 12 and over.
It was also reported that the new variant may partly dodge immunity gained from a previous infection as well. It remains unclear to what degree it will evade protection conferred by the current vaccines. The Omicron variant has appeared in nearly two dozen countries. The variant was first identified in South Africa on Nov. 23 and has quickly come to account for about three-quarters of new cases in the country.