The Omicron Variant

Kidder County District Health Unit

12/20/20210 min read

Happy holidays from all of us here at the health unit. We hope you had a joyful and safe Christmas. We continue to remain busy here with our typical services as well as COVID-19 testing and vaccinating. We continue to provide free COVID-19 testing Monday-Wednesday from 2-3pm as staffing allows and free COVID-19 vaccine every Thursday from 3-4pm at the Steele Ambulance Hall. As of 12/17/21, 51.2% of our county residents had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine – this varies greatly between age groups. Per ND immunization registry on 12/6, Kidder County has 0% of children aged 5-11 with at least 1 dose of COVID-19 vaccine, 9.2% aged 12-17, 41% aged 18-64, 63.1% aged 65-74, 74.7% aged 75+.

The Omicron variant: As I write this on 12/20, we just received confirmation that ND has 4 cases of the Omicron variant identified in the state. 2 from travel, 2 from community spread – all in different regions. This will change dramatically by the time this is published. It is safe to assume that Omicron is more widespread than the whole genome sequencing suggests since up until now only samples from recent travellers were being sequenced. As time passes, we continue to learn more and more about this variant and it’s effect on communities. Early indications show this variant presents less severe than the delta variant, but has an increased transmissibility. With cases expected to surge higher than previously, concerns will still continue over health care system capacity (Yes, hopefully less severe disease, but with an increase in overall number of cases, reports predict we will still see an increased number of hospitalizations). What can you do? Get vaccinated. Specifically get your booster dose. Studies out of the UK show receiving a 1st and 2nd dose of an mRNA vaccine is 30-40% effective against Omicron; but getting a booster dose the effectiveness increases to 70-80%. Not perfect, but vaccines still remain the most predictable way to prevent severe disease, hospitalization, and death. Recent booster data reports that 48.4% of Kidder County residents who are eligible for booster doses have received one.

Children aged 5-11 years old: Currently we do not offer the Pediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5-11 years old. However, we are considering offering it should we get enough interest from the community. We would hold a special clinic for ONLY this age group and this vaccine. If you have interest for your child, please call our office at 475-2582 – let us know days of the weeks and times that work best and we will do our best to accommodate. According to the CDCs voluntary V-safe program (tracks side effects from vaccine), 41,000 children have been reported on and side effects have been generally mild: fever, fatigue, etc. Less than 10% had to miss school because of side effects. We offer Pfizer vaccine to 12-17 year olds weekly during our normal COVID-19 vaccine clinic hours – Thursdays from 3-4pm at the Steele Ambulance Hall.

We are so happy to answer any questions or give more information about the COVID-19 vaccines to anyone interested – we’d love to hear from you. 475-2582