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Are the vaccines effective against Omicron? It’s a question Lock is frequently asked

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Are the current COVID-19 vaccines effective against Omicron?

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“Many people ask us if the vaccines are failing,” says Dr. Joyce Lock, the medical officer of health for Southwestern Public Health.

“Despite very high rates of vaccination, cases have skyrocketed and this feels surprising to many and more than a bit discouraging.”

Lock is assuring people that despite the rising numbers the vaccines are working.

“We never expected them to completely get rid of COVID,” she said. “They don’t prevent you from becoming infected. They do – significantly – lower your risk of seriousness illness, hospitalization and death.”

With at least two doses, Lock said, your risk of hospitalization is reduced by about 83 per cent. With those same two doses your risk of ICU admission is reduced by about 95 per cent.

“So the vaccines, although they have not got rid of the COVID virus, they have certainly helped to make, for most of us, the infection be just one of a severe cold.

“The goal has always been to prevent serious outcomes of COVID-19 infections and to lessen the impact on our health care system. In addition to vaccinations, the absolute most important step you can take is to reduce your number of contacts. COVID-19 can’t spread if we keep our distance from others.”

The current COVID-19 restrictions implemented by the Province, expected to be in place for three weeks, should act as a ‘circuit breaker’ to effectively reduce transmissions, said Lock, and take pressure off local hospitals.

There is data about the effectiveness of the third dose, but not yet available on the fourth dose.

“Prior to Omicron, two doses were about 90 per cent effective. With Omicron, two doses are less effective. Numbers range… but it’s about 50 to 60 per cent. But with a third dose it goes up from 50 to 60 to 70 to 80 per cent effective. So that third dose is still not quite as good as two doses was for the delta variant but it’s definitely better than two doses for the Omicron variant.

“Right now were encouraging people, particularly those over 50, to get that third dose.”

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