Breakthrough cases more common with omicron variant, Arkansas health officials push boosted immunity

Coronavirus

LITTLE ROCK, Ark – As the omicron variant sweeps the nation, Arkansas health officials say breakthrough cases could be more common than before.

Dr. Jennifer Dillaha with the Arkansas Department of Health says statistics from other countries are showing an uptick in break-through cases.

“Humans don’t develop lasting immunity to the coronaviruses,” Dr. Dillaha said. “People who have been previously infected with a different variant can still get ill with the omicron variant.”

Dillaha says the new variant is also impacting those who have been vaccinated. She says the new variant has gone through a lot of mutation, causing a new wave of unprotected illness.

“No one talks about the emotions that come with a positive test,” Little Rock native Summer Campbell said. “I had done everything right.”

Summer Campbell was exposed to Covid-19 in early December. She is both vaccinated and boosted and tested positive for Covid-19 two weeks ago.

“I was extremely tired, very fatigued. I had a cough and a really bad headache,” Campbell said.

Campbell is what the Arkansas Department of Health is calling a breakthrough case. They say these can also be caused by the natural wear of immunity.

She says patients now more than ever need to be aware of symptoms regardless of vaccination status.

“It’s upper respiratory,” Dillaha said. “Their nose, throat, congested, cough.”

Dillaha says the new variant can also look a lot like allergies, encouraging everyone to air on the side of caution.

“Stay home. Don’t expose others, and get tested,” Dillaha said.

Dillaha also stressed the importance of getting vaccinated and boosted to keep up immunity as it starts to wear off. She says it may not keep the variant away completely but will lessen symptoms.

Campbell says she believes the vaccine saved her life.

“The vaccine saved me from being hospitalized,” Campbell said.

The Arkansas Department of Health says everyone should get boosted 6 months after the second vaccine. They also suggest continued mask-wearing to help slow the spread of the new variant.

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