PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – As the omicron COVID-19 variant spreads rapidly across the country, Oregon health officials warn how this may impact hospitals around the state.

Governor Brown and public health officials said Friday that we have about three weeks until they expect a surge of COVID-19 patients in hospitals in Oregon due to the omicron variant.

Health officials said even though there are breakthrough cases, you are less likely to suffer from serious illness and death if you are vaccinated, especially if you had a booster shot. 

“If you haven’t already done so, please get vaccinated,” Chief Medical Officer for OHSU Health Dr. Renee Edwards said.  

That’s the message that Oregon health officials are pushing this weekend as omicron continues its own push to become the dominant variant of COVID-19 nationwide. 

“Although there is much we don’t yet know about the omicron variant, we do know it can infect fully vaccinated individuals, especially those who have not yet received their booster shot,” Edwards said.

Although there are reports of breakthrough cases with omicron in the fully vaccinated, health officials said the cases of illness are proving to be less severe than in those who opted out of a vaccine altogether. 

“The good news is, that fully vaccinated and especially boosted people are much less likely to develop severe disease,” Edwards explained.

Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the health officer and state epidemiologist for the Oregon Public Health Division explained “we know that being fully vaccinated and boosted offers tremendous protection against being hospitalized and could even cut down on you being sick.”

With vaccines and boosters, medical professionals hope the prevention of severe disease from vaccines will also provide some relief to medical professionals and hospitals already feeling the strain of a fall and winter uptick in COVID cases along with other patients who need care. 

“Once again, many Oregonians will need a staffed hospital bed which frankly, remain in drastically short supply, even now, around the state,” Edwards said.

The Oregon Health Authority reported data Friday that showed limited bed space in Region 1, which includes Multnomah, Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Tillamook and Washington counties. Out of 369 staffed adult ICU beds, 345 were full — leaving 24 available ICU beds.

It was even more strained in Region 2, which includes Marion, Polk, Yamhill, Linn, Lincoln and Benton counties. Out of 86 staffed adult ICU beds, 82 were occupied –leaving 4 beds available.

“OSHU and other health systems in the Portland metro area continue to be completely full,” Edwards said. 

Dr. Edwards said hospitals in neighboring states face the same situation in their hospitals with very limited beds available.