Omicron variant may be as contagious as measles, experts say


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Experts urged Oregonians to take additional precautions as the omicron variant has been found to spread three to five times easier than the delta strain — making its contagious capability comparable to the measles.

“We do recommend for everyone who can do it, to up your mask game,” said Dr. Kristen Dillon, a senior advisor for Oregon’s COVID-19 response. “Go to wearing an N95 or a KN95 or a surgical mask with a cloth mask over it — because it’s not just coughing or sneezing that can cause spread, it’s the air that we breath in and out that can spread this from person to person.”

Dillon said in many ways, Oregonians need to go back to the playbook from mid-2020 where they were told to keep social gatherings small, which is tough to hear as many want to get together with larger groups for the holidays.

As the omicron variant continues to spread across Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, demand for vaccines has also remained high, filling up most major retailers’ appointments across the metro area.

Health experts also said getting a booster could mean the difference between getting really sick from the omicron variant or just mildly ill.

They encouraged those unable to find appointments to consider county and state clinics as they often have openings. Around noon, a clinic in Beaverton had no line.

Washington County’s mobile vaccine team administered COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to community members at a walk-in clinic Thursday at the Beaverton Hoop YMCA.

The event ran from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and was one of several the county’s health department made open to the public — for free and with no appointments needed.

Boosters as well as Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines were offered at the walk-in clinic and a similar one held Wednesday at James Templeton Elementary in Tigard.

Washington County’s mobile vaccine team holds clinics across the community five days per week, officials said, but not all of its events are open to the public. Here is a list of the ones that are.

The county’s clinics are designed to dole out about 250 vaccines a day, and officials said they’re working to increase that output to 400. More information on Washington County’s vaccine clinics can be found here.

All Oregonians aged 5 and older are eligible for the vaccine; however, at Washington County-sponsored vaccine events, anyone 14 years old or younger must be accompanied by a parent, a guardian or an adult designated by the parent or guardian, according to the county’s website.

The Oregon Health Authority is also holding multiple mass vaccination clinics across the state — announcing on Thursday an addition of three more sites.

OHA’s clinics are set up to administer around 1,000 vaccines per day, however, many OHA vaccine sites are closed during Christmas Eve and Christmas. Times, days, locations and more information on those clinics can be found here.

Those wanting to get vaccinated can also find a site nearby using OHA’s online locator.

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