By Megan Wehring
With the recent emergence of the Omicron variant, doctors and health officials are urging people to get fully vaccinated and boosted.
“Vaccination is extremely critical for people,” said Dr. Michael Kerr at Ascension Seton Hays, “especially at high risk to give them both protection from catching [COVID] but more importantly, some protection against becoming extremely ill.”
The Omicron variant has been sweeping through communities at a rapid rate, causing an increased need for more people to get their booster. People who are fully vaccinated with a booster have built-in protection to keep from getting critically ill, Kerr explained.
“Their immune system essentially has a head start at fighting off any infection,” Kerr said.
Finding a booster shot
Hospitals across the state and nation are struggling to keep up with the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many are seeing more patients because of it.
“What Ascension has been doing,” Kerr said, “which I have been really happy and proud of is they have been trying to respond to the community’s need. They have been setting up appointment testing centers so people don’t have to come to the emergency department just looking for a test.”
Kerr said when people visit his emergency department looking for a COVID-19 test, the staff gives them a phone number and a testing clinic.
“Now obviously, if you are sick, please come in [and]let us take a look at you,” Kerr said. “We sometimes get things started in the waiting area with a clinician team trying to figure out what’s going on and get things moving for you. I don’t like people waiting when you are sick.”
While Seton Hays did see a low volume of patients in the wake of the pandemic because people didn’t want to go to the hospital, Kerr said it’s starting to pick back up.
“We are responding to the numbers, just seeing everybody that’s coming in,” Kerr told the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch, “and trying to do the best we can. We are seeing a slight increase in volume but we expected it.”
Those seeking COVID-19 testing who are either asymptomatic or with mild symptoms are encouraged to call 2-1-1, or (877) 541-7905 or visit 211texas.org to find a testing site. Ascension asks residents to reserve emergency departments for those who are seriously ill or injured.
Who can get a booster shot
People should observe the following guidelines when getting a booster shot, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).