As the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, the new Omicron variant is causing a surge in COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and around the world. Omicron is a variant of the original COVID-19 virus. While there is still a lot to uncover about Omicron, we want to provide you with the most up-to-date information.
The bottom line: Omicron is likely to spread more easily than other known variants. Anyone who has an Omicron infection can infect others, even if the infected person is vaccinated or not experiencing symptoms.1 Keep reading for more information on Omicron, vaccines and boosters to help keep you and your family safe during the pandemic.
What are the symptoms of Omicron?
Symptoms of Omicron can be similar to the original COVID-19 virus and other variants, which can include a combination of the following: fever, cough, congestion, runny nose, headache, sore throat, muscle pains/aches and fatigue.
“Fever, cough and headache look to be the most common symptoms from the current data. However, especially if you are vaccinated and boosted, and your immune system has been primed to fight COVID-19, some people may experience minimal to no symptoms when infected with the new Omicron variant,” says Dr. Bridget McCabe, Teladoc Health VP and Medical Director of Clinical Quality.
“Being vaccinated and boosted allows your immune system to be on alert and ready to attack the COVID-19 virus when it enters your mouth or nose. The vaccine-primed immune system can get the upper hand, thus greatly reducing both symptoms and the likelihood of getting very sick when you come in contact with the COVID-19 virus.”
Am I safe from Omicron if I’m vaccinated?
Not necessarily. Breakthrough infections are possible, meaning you can still get Omicron if you are vaccinated. Fortunately, similar to with the Delta variant, vaccines and boosters will help protect you from severe symptoms, hospitalization and death.1 So, while you may experience more mild symptoms thanks to being vaccinated, Omicron is still highly infectious and still presents a risk to our most vulnerable family and friends.
Masks also offer an additional layer of protection to the person who wears the mask as well as to the people around them. Wearing a well-fitting mask over your nose and mouth reduces the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. While all well-fitting masks offer some level of protection, the CDC now recommends using a well-fitting N95 or KN95 respirator mask to provide the highest level of protection and help reduce the spread of the Omicron variant.2
What if I’m unvaccinated?
“Getting vaccinated is the single most effective preventive action you can take against COVID-19,” says Dr. McCabe. As Omicron spreads, it’s essential to get vaccinated to protect yourself and others. Getting vaccinated now can also prevent new, potentially more dangerous, variants from emerging later on. Find a COVID-19 vaccine or booster provider near you.
Who can get a COVID-19 booster shot?
The CDC recommends that all people 6 months and older receive the primary COVID-19 vaccination series. Anyone 5 and older should also get a booster dose if eligible. Vaccine and booster recommendations are based on age, vaccine received and time since last dose. Learn more on the CDC website.
What else should I be doing to protect myself and my family?
- Get the COVID-19 vaccine and boosters when you’re eligible
- Get the influenza vaccine now
- Wear a well-fitting mask in indoor public areas
- Get tested for COVID-19 and/or flu if you’re experiencing symptoms
- Wash your hands regularly
- Reduce your possible exposure as much as possible by avoiding large crowds and practicing social distancing
- Support your immunity by eating well, moving your body and getting seven to nine hours of restful sleep each night
Can I use Teladoc Health for COVID-19?
Our doctors can answer questions about COVID-19 and when to seek in-person care. Our doctors can’t order or provide COVID-19 tests or vaccines. Our doctors can prescribe the oral treatment Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir plus ritonavir) if you are eligible, have tested positive recently, have symptoms currently and fall into one of the high-risk groups. We recommend that you look up which pharmacies near you have Paxlovid in stock so you won’t have any issues.
Teladoc Health doctors can:
- Answer questions about COVID-19 and when to seek in-person care
- Discuss eligibility for the use of certain treatments
- Prescribe the oral treatment Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir + ritonavir) if eligible
- Explain guidelines for testing, vaccination, isolation and quarantine
- Advise how to stay safe if you are seeking to travel and gather
Our doctors cannot prescribe other oral or IV treatments, including Lagevrio (molnupiravir), the antiviral drug Veklury (remdesivir) and monoclonal antibodies (for COVID-19 treatment).
Call your local doctor’s office to request an in-person visit if you are experiencing shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, lightheadedness, fainting or blue discoloration of the lips. These are more severe symptoms that require an in-person assessment.
If you are worried you might have COVID-19, consider taking our self-assessment to evaluate your risk and receive recommended next steps.
If you have general questions about COVID-19, explore our frequently asked questions.
Updated February 22, 2023