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Is Indiana ready for omicron COVID-19 cases? Expert says yes – if Hoosiers get vaccinated

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Justin Hicks/IPB News
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Is Indiana ready for omicron? One epidemiologist said the public health system is ready for the latest COVID-19 variant – but still needs Hoosiers’ help by getting vaccinated.

Indiana ranks near the bottom of U.S. states for vaccinations, with fewer than 55 percent of the total population fully vaccinated. 

Dr. Scott Stienecker is an epidemiologist with the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. He said Indiana’s low vaccination rates are a reason for concern as the state reports its first sampled omicron tests.

“Those who have been vaccinated – and especially boostered – are really pretty darn well protected,” Stienecker said.

READ MORE: Indiana reports first case of COVID-19 variant omicron

But he also said Hoosiers already know what works: getting vaccinated, diligent hand washing, wearing masks, social distancing, and staying home if sick.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says vaccines are still expected to prevent severe illness, hospitalizations and death from the omicron variant. But it does anticipate breakthrough cases.

Indiana reported its first case of omicron on Dec. 19. The COVID-19 strain has caused a rapid increase in cases throughout Europe, and was labeled a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization on Nov. 26.

Contact Lauren at lchapman@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @laurenechapman_.