COLORADO, USA — The emergence of new COVID-19 omicron subvariants has prompted US regulators to pressure vaccine manufacturers to change their omicron booster shots.
This fall, vaccine makers are expected to add protection against omicron's newer relatives following the request from US regulators in late June.
“The new variants that have been emerging have been increasingly likely to infect people despite being vaccinated,” said Dr. Ricardo González-Fisher.
The omicron subvariant BA.5, the dominant variant in the United States, has been reported to be more resistant to antibody protection from previous vaccines and infections than previous omicron strains.
González-Fisher, a medical expert with Servicios de la Raza, joined 9NEWS Watch host Chris Bianchi to discuss the specific omicron vaccines and when Coloradans can expect to see them.
Why is it important that we get omicron variant vaccines?
“We have been observing in recent months the appearance of sub-variants of the coronavirus that gives COVID-19," Gonzalez-Fisher said. "And we saw probably 6 or 8 months ago, that we were starting to have certain variants that could infect people despite being vaccinated.”
González-Fisher stressed, however, that the current vaccines remain safe and effective in preventing hospitalization and death.
“The theory right now is that if we combine the original vaccine with a specific vaccine for the variant, we will be able to reduce the number of infections and probably everyone will be more comfortable being together,” said González-Fisher.
When do we expect omicron variant vaccines to be available?
According to González-Fisher, the White House provided information that the vaccine will be available for use in September.
“That is very encouraging to be able to start with the new vaccines,” Gonzalez-Fisher said.
Many children go back to school this week, how might that return affect COVID numbers and how we see the virus in general?
González-Fisher said that as children return to school, now for a third time since the pandemic began, and with COVID-19 protocols relaxed, we will soon see infections in schools and children will begin to take those infections home.
"In the state of Colorado, schools are open and we will be in face-to-face classes," he said. "The children are going to go to school and protocols have been relaxed. Children will no longer have to keep 6 feet apart, the use of a face mask is not mandatory and the group of people that is vaccinated in children is still quite low.”
He recommends parents continue using preventative measures and if they have not vaccinated their children, he said "it is time to do so."
He added that if they have symptoms, they should get tested and if they are with someone who is sick, they should stay home.
Servicios De La Raza, the state's largest nonprofit serving Latinos, will continue to offer its vaccination clinic each week on Thursdays.
Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. they will have a mobile clinic at the Mexican Consulate, at 5350 Leetsdale Drive, Suite #100.
Vaccines are also available from 4 - 8 p.m. at the organization, which is located at 3131 W. 14th Ave. Appointments are not required but are recommended. People can call 303-458-5851 to make an appointment.
No form of identification, Social Security number or health insurance is required to get vaccinated.
Saturday they will have their mobile clinic at the Adams 12 Five Star Schools Back to School Bash event in Thornton from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Free backpacks and school supplies will also be distributed for Five Star District K-12 families.
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