Dec 9, 2021 - COVID

Omicron likely spreading through Texas, health experts say

A photo of a person waiting to receive the COVID vaccine
Photo: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The COVID-19 Omicron variant is likely to be already spreading through Texas as the state confirmed its first-known case on Tuesday, according to Austin health officials.

Zoom in: While no confirmed cases of Omicron have been detected in the city, Austin Public Health spokesperson William Malm says the variant "is possibly in Austin-Travis County," and it's expected to spread similarly to Delta, which now makes up more than 99% of reported COVID-19 cases in the state.

Vaccination rates of Texans 18 and older. Data: CDC; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Why it matters: Researchers are still working to understand the variant, but agree that vaccinations are the best protection against the virus. The CDC also changed its recommendation for booster shots last month, saying adults "should" receive a booster dose.

  • Austin Public Health administered a record 5,157 boosters last week, Walkes said.
  • Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine were significantly less effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant in early lab tests, but a three-dose regimen was more effective.

Roughly 64% of Americans ages 5 and older are fully vaccinated. The Lone Star State lags behind that figure, with 59.8% of the population fully vaccinated.

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