Alabama confirms first case of omicron COVID variant

Alabama has confirmed its first case of the omicron COVID variant.

The variant, which was first identified by scientists in Africa in November, was first confirmed in the state today, according to the Associated Press.

State Health Officer Scott Harris said it was presumed the variant, also known as B.1.1.529, was already in Alabama since it was confirmed in all neighboring states. No information on the location of the case was provided.

Omicron was reported in 33 states earlier this week. By today that number had increased to 36.

“The No. 1 message remains get vaccinated. That is the single best thing you can do to protect yourself,” Harris said, adding eligible people should also get a booster.

The first omicron case in the U.S. was identified on Dec. 1 in California.

Research indicates omicron could be more transmissible than the current delta variant that remains the dominant strain in the U.S. Omicron makes up 3% of all sequenced Covid-19 cases in the U.S., up from less than 0.1% in early December. As of Dec. 10, there was one hospitalization and no deaths among the initial 43 omicron COVID cases in the U.S. There are now more than 189 cases of the variant.

COVID vaccines are recommended for most people age 5 and older. COVID-19 booster doses are recommended for adults ages 18 and older. Teens 16–17 years old who received Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines can get a booster dose if they are at least 6 months post their initial Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination series.

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