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More than 40 cases of Omicron variant in US, including in Florida & Georgia

FILE (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File) (Charles Krupa, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There are now more than 40 cases of the omicron variant in the U.S., including in Florida and Georgia.

Chad Neilsen, UF Health Jacksonville director of infection prevention, says those cases will grow, but delta remains dominant.

While studies are limited, Pfizer says that “three doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine neutralize the omicron variant while two doses show significantly reduced neutralization.”

On Wednesday, the U.S. marked a milestone with 200 million Americans fully vaccinated, but only 50 million got boosters.

On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cleared teenagers ages 16 and 17 to get Pfizer’s booster shots when eligible. The Pfizer vaccine is the only option in the U.S. for anyone younger than 18, either for initial vaccination or for use as a booster.

The FDA and CDC now say people age 16 and 17 should get Pfizer's booster six months after their second dose.

News4JAX asked Neilsen if we’ll get to the point where the CDC has no choice but to make fully vaccinated three shots.

“We will likely come to that I anticipate in the next couple of months with more guidance and research once they figure out more about omicron. But I would expect a third shot to be added for any number of things — whether that’s air travel, returning to the U.S. or employers who already require it — I would assume booster shots will be included in that,” Neilsen said.

And while medical experts say we still don’t know a lot about omicron at this point, the CDC says the variant appears to be more transmissible than delta but less deadly, which Neilsen says is good news for hospitals.

While many have yet to get their third booster shot, Pfizer’s chief executive said this week a fourth booster may be needed down the line.

But for right now, the push is to get people either vaccinated or boosted with a third dose.

For some perspective, News4JAX looked into what other common vaccines require three or more shots to be considered fully vaccinated. The flu shot is administered annually. The hepatitis B vaccine requires three doses. Among those that need four doses are polio and pneumococcal disease. And you get five doses for DTaP, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough.

About the Author:

Lauren Verno anchors the 9 a.m. hour of The Morning Show and is the consumer investigative reporter weekday afternoons.