Answering your questions about the omicron vaccine rollout

Posted at 7:08 PM, Jan 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-17 23:49:26-05

TAMPA, Fla — COVID-19 cases are continuing to climb due to the highly contagious omicron variant.

"We're seeing the post-holiday spike. It's probably going to stay high for the next weeks and then hopefully it will start to decline by February," said FGCU Physician Assistant Program Director, Robert Hawkes.

Those rising numbers include people who are unvaccinated, but also many who are vaccinated. Medical experts say that's because the current vaccines aren't as sensitive to the omicron variant.

To help cut down on those breakthrough cases, Pfizer is currently working on an omicron-specific vaccine, but they say it won't be ready until March. But Hawkes tells ABC Action News based on the timing, this new vaccine won't come out until after the current spike in cases likely starts to slow down.

"At that point, hopefully from what history shows us the omicron variant will hopefully be on the decline. That doesn't mean people still can't get it, but we won't be seeing the peak numbers that we're seeing based on omicron," said Hawkes.

Hawkes says this delay is all part of a frustrating game of "catch up" that scientists are having to play as the COVID-19 virus continues to change.

"It's kind of like we're always behind in trying to play "catch up" with the current variants that are spreading COVID-19," said Hawkes.

And while the new Pfizer vaccine promises better omicron protection, Hawkes adds that if you need a booster right now you can still use existing vaccines.

"That's why it's important for people to get their booster vaccine because it is showing some protection against the omicron variant. So it's designed to prevent hospitalization and people from becoming very very ill," he said.