You need to focus on protecting your family from the Omicron variant. In this article, we will talk about that among other things. You may be concerned about whether Omicron will cause more severe symptoms in your children than previous variations, whether the currently licensed vaccines for children will still be effective, and whether new or extra safety measures will be required.
Due to its novelty, researchers are still attempting to determine what effect it has on the virus and how severe the illness is and how well the vaccine protects against it.
However, experts are telling everyone (especially parents) not to freak out just yet. There are still many unknowns, but we now know a lot more than we did when COVID-19 initially appeared.
Not enough evidence exists to cause alarm. Extensive research has been conducted on the new variety all across the world, and stronger controls should be implemented soon.
To further inform parents about Omicron and how they can protect their children from exposure when new information becomes available, we contacted a number of specialists in the field.
Just what is the Omicron Form Called?
On November 9, 2021, researchers in South Africa found the first evidence of the Omicron variety, and on November 24, 2021, they informed the WHO of the discovery.
On November 26, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially labeled Omicron as a “Variant of Concern.”
Because of the fast spread of illnesses in South Africa, this variant appeared to be highly contagious. Therefore it was labeled as such. Further, the World Health Organization reports that there are more mutations in this version than in others, and some of them are cause for concern.
Omicron has a global footprint, with chapters in multiple nations, including the United States. The CDC has confirmed Omicron cases in 44 states as of December 18, 2021. Numerous examples in other countries, such as the UK, Israel, Hong Kong, Japan, Norway, Sweden, and Australia, have also confirmed its presence.
Despite the fact that the current wave in South Africa may suggest that Omicron spreads swiftly, additional evidence is required to confirm this.
The CDC emphasizes that the current wave of infections in the United States can be traced back to the Delta version of COVID-19.
If you’re worried about Omicron because of all the questions and mysteries surrounding it, rest assured that scientists are working tirelessly to uncover the truth.
The scientific community throughout the world is working feverishly to decipher it, but much of the information is still in its infancy.
What Makes the Omicron Variant Distinctive?
Researchers have yet to compile enough information about Omicron to draw any firm conclusions about how it differs from other varieties. Some specialists even speculate that it could be even more infectious than previously identified varieties.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes that Omicron will be more contagious than COVID-19 as it was initially discovered, but they have not made any predictions about how it could compare to other known variants.
Omicron Vs. Delta
Once again, at this time, there are no definitive solutions. As of right now, the Delta variant is the most common in the US, but whether or not the Omicron variant will become more popular remains to be seen.
As a matter of fact, Omicron may prove to be even more contagious than Delta. Since it appears to have displaced the delta variant and possibly other variants in some environments, we can assume it is more contagious. We can also infer that its prevalence is higher than what has been publicly disclosed.
Whether or whether Omicron will result in more severe sickness than previous variations are unknown, and neither is the efficacy of our current vaccinations against it.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that as of December 18, 2021, even if our current vaccinations don’t entirely protect against breakthrough infections of Omicron, they will at least protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and death.
The Omicron Variant: What Effects Does It Have on Young People?
If your child were to contract Omicron, as a parent, the first thing on your thoughts would likely be how it would affect your child. Over the summer, we witnessed an unprecedented uptick in pediatric infections and hospitalizations due to the delta variant.
It is currently impossible to predict the effects of Omicron on children due to a lack of data. The evidence so far from South Africa suggests that the Omicron virus has spread to youngsters. Although this variation of concern (VOC) may behave differently from other VOCs in children, it is too soon to tell.
Does the Omicron Variant Vaccine Protect My Child?
Having COVID-19 vaccines available for children aged 5 to 11 and adolescents aged 12 to 15 has allowed many parents to exhale with ease. This has led many of us to speculate that the appearance of Omicron could reduce the efficacy of these immunizations.
Numerous questions remain unanswered, including whether or whether COVID-19 vaccines will be successful. Vaccines could suffer a backlash if disease transmission rates rise.
Changes to the spike protein have been seen in Omicron. However, since spike proteins are the primary target of vaccine-induced antibodies, it is possible that the vaccination will be less effective for Omicron.
Initial laboratory data on the effectiveness of Pfizer’s vaccination against Omicron were announced on December 8, 2021. Antibody concentrations (neutralizing titers) were shown to be lower against the Omicron form of COVID-19 compared to the wild-type virus. Tests of blood antibodies from persons who had received two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine showed the greatest reduction. Three-dose vaccine recipients still reported high levels of neutralizing antibodies.
Booster shots for COVID were made available to children aged 12-17 in January of 2022.
10 Booster shots are not recommended for children aged 5 to 11, and no vaccines have been approved for those aged 4 and less.
This new information does not cause alarm for parents. Due to the high levels of neutralizing antibodies against Omicron after only two doses of vaccine, I believe that young children and teenagers who are only able to receive the minimum recommended immunization schedule will still be protected from death, hospitalization, and serious sickness.
Pfizer’s findings will inform recommendations for booster shots for children and adolescents over the coming months. However, until then, the current immunizations will save kids from falling very ill.
How Long Should My Child Attend School?
Both children and their parents are struggling to make ends meet. There was an unexpected closure of schools in the spring of 2020, and by the following year, many students were attending a variety of hybrid and online learning environments. Thankfully, most classrooms are back in session now. Yet now that Omicron has emerged, many parents are concerned about whether or not schools will remain safe and whether or not this new threat will lead to additional school closures in the future.
Fortunately, experts agree that schools should be able to maintain their status as a safe environment for our children, provided they continue to take the safeguards that many now are doing, such as masking, separating, and testing.
Our best defense against Omicron and other SARS-CoV-2 variants remains vaccination, mask use, and rapid, regular, proactive testing. When their children are old enough, parents should make sure to have them vaccinated, and everyone should remain diligent about wearing masks at school. It’s also crucial to do preventive tests on student populations.
Your child will be protected from Omicron and its variants, and the likelihood of outbreaks and school closures will be reduced as a result of these steps.
Getting a tad on edge about the Omicron variant’s announcement is very normal. You are not alone in your feelings; many other parents can relate. Although we don’t know how this variant will manifest itself in our kids and our families, we have a lot of great ways to protect ourselves and them.
Everyone who has studied COVID-19 agrees that we should keep wearing masks, get vaccinated if we’re eligible, and keep being tested if we exhibit symptoms. Your child’s pediatrician is an excellent person to talk to if you have any other health-related questions or concerns about Omicron. Don’t be shy about contacting them right now.