WASHINGTON, Dec 19 (Reuters) – U.S. health officials urged Americans on Sunday to get booster shots, wear masks and be careful if they travel over the winter holidays, with the Omicron variant raging across the world and likely to take over as the dominant strain in the United States.
The government is gearing up for the next phase of battle in a two-year fight against a virus that has killed 800,000 and disrupted every aspect of daily life.
Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the number of Omicron cases will go up steeply in the next two weeks.
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“A big message for today is if you’ve had vaccines and a booster, you’re very well protected against Omicron causing you severe disease. So, anybody listening to this who’s in that 60% of Americans who are eligible for a booster but haven’t yet gotten one: This is the week to do it. Do not wait,” he said.
Omicron is multiplying rapidly, making COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots more crucial than ever, chief White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Sunday. Currently 27% of U.S. residents have not gotten even a single dose of vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It is just, you know, raging through the world,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Omicron has been found in 43 out of 50 U.S. …….