Why you don’t want to catch the omicron variant of COVID-19 – Houston Chronicle
This combination of traits has raised an inevitable question: What’s the point in trying to avoid it? People are going to get it, and it probably won’t be too bad or land you in the hospital, especially for those who are vaccinated and boosted. So why not just give up and let it get you?
It’s a reasonable question. But there are very good answers as to why even boosted people should not just ease up on the mask/distancing/testing/ventilation routine, tired as everyone is of it.
Here are some key ones:
• If you don’t get infected, you can’t infect anyone else. Stopping the chain of infection is important, because even if omicron is mild for you, other people may not be so lucky. The elderly. The people who have organ transplants or asthma or diabetes — not to mention lupus, cancer or any number of immunity-weakening illnesses. The kids 4 and under who won’t be eligible for a vaccine for months. The kids 5 and older whose parents have not gotten them vaccinated. Omicron’s supposed “mildness” may be largely because most people’s immune systems are bolstered by vaccines or earlier COVID infections. That’s not true of most small children in the relatively well-protected Bay Area, for example.
• Your own case might not be mild. The odds are good, but they’re not perfect. Even young adults, at lower risk than the elderly, potentially can get very ill.
• A lower number of infections reduces the incredible strain on the hospital system. Spare a moment to think about the heroes on the front lines who we applauded in spring 2020 as the terrifying, mysterious new virus was circulating. They’ve been working ceaselessly — through staffing shortages exacerbated by burnouts and omicron quarantines — to care for what could become an unprecedented number of patients due to the sheer number of omicron infections. It’s important not to take the chance of adding to their burden.
• You don’t want to risk long COVID. People don’t talk about this enough. Contracting COVID can leave you with brain fog or other miserable symptoms long after the initial infection is gone. The risk is likely lower for people with breakthrough cases, but it’s not zero — and research has yet to inform us on the long COVID risk from omicron. Other long-term risks, as yet hidden, could exist. Chickenpox leads to shingles, and HPV causes cancer. Hopefully, omicron will not return in some damaging way, but it’s impossible to be sure.
• We don’t know about the prospect of omicron reinfection. If you get omicron to “get it over with,” it’s unclear whether or how much that actually protects you from getting it again.