For Immediate ReleaseDecember 17, 2021
Variant of Concern Underscores Role of Booster Vaccine
San Rafael, CA – Marin County health officials have confirmed the first case of the COVID-19 Omicron variant. The individual had recently completed domestic travel from the Eastern United States and was fully vaccinated but had not yet received a booster shot. The person is now in isolation with mild symptoms.
In addition, Marin County COVID-19 wastewater surveillance samples detected low levels of Omicron in several collection sites across the county. The Omicron variant has been detected in most Bay Area counties and is spreading rapidly globally and across the United States. The Omicron variant has been classified by the CDC as a variant of concern.
“This confirms what we expected.” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health Officer. “Omicron is here, but we know what it takes. Getting a booster dose is the most important step. And stick with the steps that have protected us so far: get vaccinated, cover your face, ventilate rooms, and get tested often.”
Based on data from other regions where Omicron has been active, Marin Public Health is cautioning residents that a surge in local cases across the region is very likely in the coming weeks. Infections with the new variant are seemingly less severe and are not yet driving surges in hospitalizations and deaths in the areas where its most prevalent globally.
“Much remains to be learned about how Omicron behaves,” said Dr. Lisa Santora, Deputy Health Officer for Marin County Public Health. “Its unwelcome news at this stage in the pandemic, but we have a lot of control over our risk. We’ve benefitted from high vaccination rates so far, and we’ll continue to lean into the protection of vaccines to meet the next challenge. It’s time to get boosted.”
Evidence is mounting that initial doses aren't enough to effectively prevent against infection with the Omicron variant. 87% of eligible Marin residents have been fully vaccinated. About 95,000 residents, almost half of those eligible, have received a booster dose. Because older residents are at higher risk for serious illness if infected with COVID-19, Marin County Public Health has set a goal that 75% of residents age 55 and older will have received a booster dose by mid-January.
Booster doses are available through local healthcare providers, as providing the COVID-19 vaccine is now part of routine healthcare. Anyone who is unable to access a vaccine from their provider can look to local pharmacies or Marin County Public Health vaccine clinics for options. Visit GetVaccinatedMarin.org for information about COVID-19 vaccines and to find an available vaccination appointment.
Laine HendricksPublic Information OfficerCounty Administrator's Office
3501 Civic Center DriveSuite #325San Rafael, CA 94903(415) 473-7496Email: Laine HendricksCounty Administrator website