What We Know about Omicron
CDC has been collaborating with global public health and industry partners to learn about Omicron, as we continue to monitor its course. We don’t yet know how easily it spreads, the severity of illness it causes, or how well available vaccines and medications work against it.
The Omicron variant likely will spread more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and how easily Omicron spreads compared to Delta remains unknown. CDC expects that anyone with Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms.
More data are needed to know if Omicron infections, and especially reinfections and breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated, cause more severe illness or death than infection with other variants.
Current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant. However, breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated are likely to occur. With other variants, like Delta, vaccines have remained effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. The recent emergence of Omicron further emphasizes the importance of vaccination and boosters.
Vaccines remain the best public health measure to protect people from COVID-19, slow transmission, and reduce the likelihood of new variants emerging.
- COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death.
- Scientists are currently investigating Omicron, including how protected fully vaccinated people will be against infection, hospitalization, and death.
- CDC recommends that everyone 5 years and older protect themselves from COVID-19 by getting fully vaccinated.
- CDC recommends that everyone ages 16 years and older get a booster shot after completing their primary COVID-19 vaccination series. You are eligible for a booster at 5 months after completing Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, 6 months after completing Moderna primary series, and 2 months after the initial J&J/Janssen vaccine. Individuals ages 16-17 are only eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
Masks offer protection against all variants.
- CDC continues to recommend wearing a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high community transmission, regardless of vaccination status.
- CDC provides advice about masks for people who want to learn more about what type of mask is right for them depending on their circumstances.
Until we know more about the risk of Omicron, it is important to use all tools available to protect yourself and others.
What to do if you come into close contact with someone with COVID-19.
- A public health worker, other professional, or the person you came into close contact with may tell you that you are a close contact and have been exposed to COVID-19.
- Follow recommendations for quarantine, testing, and wearing a well-fitting mask. Quarantine recommendations vary based on up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination status or history of prior COVID-19 infection in the past 90 days.
- Monitor your symptoms. If you have an emergency warning sign(including trouble breathing), seek emergency medical care immediately.
- If you develop symptoms, get tested immediately and isolate from others. If your test result is positive, follow recommendations to isolate.
- If you need help, health department staff can provide information about the best time to get a vaccine and resources for COVID-19 testing in your area.